Archives for category: Tom Brady

One week down. 16 to go.

The celebration continues.

To help celebrate the NFL’s 100th season, each week will feature an NFL100 Game of the Week. Each game will be a nod to a momentous game played, a fierce rivalry that spans decades, a matchup of original teams and/or a game in which history was made. The NFL has designated the Cleveland-New York Jets matchup as the Week 2 NFL100 GAME OF THE WEEK because Monday Night Football, now in its 50th season, began with a Browns-Jets contest – and an American cultural institution was born. With Keith Jackson, Howard Cosell and Don Meredith in the booth, on September 21, 1970, Cleveland topped the Jets 31-21 at Municipal Stadium in the season-opener. Cleveland’s Homer Jones scored to open the second half on a 94-yard kickoff return and the Browns’ Billy Andrews intercepted Pro Football Hall of Famer Joe Namath and scored on a 25-yard return to ice the game late in the fourth quarter. This week’s game will be the 781st in Monday Night Football history.

Rookies exploding onto the scene, flawless passer ratings, long-distance strikes and white-knuckle comebacks highlighted maybe the most thrilling Kickoff Weekend ever. What will the NFL do for an encore?

This week’s NFC Championship rematch could be a classic in the making. Fresh off a last-second victory to open 2019, Drew Brees and New Orleans travel to meet the Los Angels Rams, who defeated Carolina. It’s one of six rematches of last season’s playoff games on the NFL schedule. Head coaches Sean Payton and Sean McVay, two of the top offensive minds in the game, each saw their teams score 30 points in their victorious season openers. They weren’t alone in putting points on the scoreboard.

On the heels of the most prolific offensive season in its history, the NFL picked up where it left off. The league combined for 90 touchdowns, most ever on Kickoff Weekend (89 in 2002 and 2011). Teams also combined for 776 points, the third-highest total in league history for an opening week. Only the 791 points in Week 1 of 2012 and the 788 in 2002, when the NFL expanded to 32 teams, were higher. Baltimore led the way, heading to the halftime locker room with 42 points, the most by any team ever in a season-opening half. Kansas City and Tennessee also posted 40-plus points in their games, marking the first opening week ever in which three road teams scored 40-or-more points. And points most certainly weren’t the only common thread.

To recap Week 1 (ICYMI):

ROOKIE PASS-CATCHERS: Four rookies – Tennessee’s A.J. Brown (100), Baltimore’s Marquise Brown (147), Detroit’s T.J. Hockenson (131) and Washington’s TERRY McLAURIN (125) – posted 100-yard receiving games in their NFL debuts. It marked the first week ever in which more than two rookies recorded at least 100 receiving yards in their NFL debuts. Hockenson’s total broke the 59-year-old NFL record held by Monty Stickles (123) for a tight end in his debut. Marquise Brown, meanwhile, became the first player in NFL history with two touchdown receptions of at least 40 yards in his NFL debut.

UNPRECEDENTED PASSER RATINGS: Thirteen quarterbacks had a passer rating of 115 or higher (minimum 10 attempts). That’s the most in any week in NFL history, breaking the record of 12 set in Week 3 of the 2017 season. Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson and Dallas’ DAK PRESCOTT became the first players to post the highest-attainable passer rating (158.3) in a season-opener (minimum of 20 attempts), with Jackson (22 years, 244 days) becoming the youngest player to finish any game with a 158.3 passer rating (minimum of 20 attempts).

EXPLOSIVE PLAYS: Overall, 15 offensive touchdowns covered at least 40 yards, an NFL record for Kickoff Weekend. The prior record was 14 in 1991. With two more Sunday, Philadelphia wide receiver DeSean Jackson (31) joined Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerry Rice (36) as the only players to record more than 30 touchdowns of 50-plus yards in NFL history.

CONTAGIOUS COMEBACKS: New Orleans scored twice in the final minute to deny Houston 30-28, in a Monday night opener for the ages. In NFL history among season-opening games, Saints kicker Wil Lutz (58 yards) recorded the longest game-winning field goal with no time remaining. Five triumphant clubs erased second-half deficits. Buffalo trailed 16-0 and won and Philadelphia trailed 17-0 before winning. The only other year in which multiple teams overcame deficits of at least 16 points to win their Week 1 games was 1999, when both Arizona and Dallas closed 21-point gaps to win on Kickoff Weekend. Also this past weekend, both Indianapolis and Arizona trailed 24-9 in the second half and sent their games to overtime.​

HOPE REMAINS IN ABUNDANCE: In 2018, seven teams opened 2-0. Only two – Kansas City and the Los Angeles Rams – made the postseason.

Since 1990, when the NFL adopted the 12-team playoff format, 144 of the 235 teams (61.3 percent) to start 2-0 have qualified for the postseason. Since 1978, when NFL teams began playing 16-game schedules and excluding the abbreviated season of 1982, 195 of the 313 teams (62.3 percent) to start 2-0 advanced to the postseason. Of those 313 teams, only 128 (40.9 percent) won their division titles.

INTRA-CONFERENCE CLASHES: In addition to the Saints and Rams, two other Week 2 games feature match-ups of 1-0 teams. Earlier, at Lambeau Field, Green Bay with a win over Minnesota at 1 p.m. on FOX, can start the year with a 2-0 record in the NFC North, and start 2-0 overall for the first time since 2015. In Oakland, the Raiders can also jump to 2-0 in their division with a win over Kansas City at 4:05 p.m. on CBS. Raiders running back Josh Jacobs became the first player since Pro Football Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson in 2001 with at least 100 scrimmage yards and two rushing touchdowns in his NFL debut. Meanwhile, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes has more passing yards (5,759) and passing touchdowns (53) than any player ever over his first 20 games. The Kansas City-Oakland game is one of seven division contests to dot the schedule.

FAMILIAR TERRITORY: After authoring an incredible comeback to defeat the New  York Jets last week, Buffalo returns to MetLife Stadium to meet the New York Giants. It’s the first time a road team has played at the same stadium in consecutive weeks since BALTIMORE did it Oct. 16-23, 2016, also at MetLife Stadium. Miami later this season will also travel to New York in consecutive weeks, Dec. 8-15.

SEVEN FROM SUNDAY: 11 quarterbacks have had a passer rating of 115 or higher (minimum 10 attempts) through 13 games in Week 1, tied with Week 13 of the 2004 season (11) and Week 12 of the 1995 season (11) for the second-most in any week since 1970. Only Week 3 of the 2017 season (12) had more quarterbacks record a passer rating of 115 or higher (minimum 10 attempts).

Four rookies – Tennessee wide receiver A.J. Brown (100 receiving yards), Baltimore wide receiver Marquise Brown (147), Detroit tight end T.J. Hockenson (131) and Washington wide receiver Terry McLaurin (125) – each recorded at least 100 receiving yards in their NFL debuts on Kickoff Weekend.

It marks the first week in which three-or-more rookies have each recorded at least 100 receiving yards in their debuts in NFL history.

With 131 receiving yards, Hockenson surpassed Monty Stickles (123 receiving yards on September 25, 1960) for the most receiving yards by a tight end in his NFL debut in league history.

Baltimore defeated Miami 59-10 on Kickoff Weekend. Baltimore scored 42 points in the first half, the most by any team in the first half of a season-opening game in NFL history. The Ravens, who scored 47 points on Kickoff Weekend in 2018, are the fifth team in league annals and first since the 1967-68 Oakland Raiders to score at least 40 points in consecutive season-opening games.

Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson completed 17 of 20 attempts for 324 yards with five touchdowns and zero interceptions for a 158.3 passer rating in the victory. Jackson is the seventh quarterback in NFL history and first since Ben Roethlisberger (November 11, 2018) with at least 300 passing yards, five touchdowns and a 158.3 passer rating, the highest attainable mark, in a single game in NFL history.

Baltimore rookie wide receiver Marquise Brownrecorded touchdowns of 47 and 83 yards on his first two catches in his NFL debut. Brown became the first player in NFL history with two touchdown receptions of at least 40 yards in his NFL debut and his 83-yard touchdown reception is the second-longest by a player in his NFL debut in the Super Bowl era, trailing only Rick Upchurch (90-yard touchdown reception on September 21, 1975).

Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes passed for 378 yards and three touchdowns for a 143.2 passer rating in the Chiefs’ 40-26 win at Jacksonville.

Mahomes, who has 5,759 passing yards in 18 career games, surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer Kurt Warner (5,613 passing yards) for the most passing yards by a player in his first 20 career games in NFL history. Mahomes’ 53 touchdown passes are also the most by any player in his first 20 career games.

Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins had nine receptions for 198 yards and three touchdowns in the win. Watkins is the fourth player in NFL history to record at least 195 receiving yards and three touchdown receptions in a season-opening game, joining Frank Clarke (September 16, 1962), Irving Fryar (September 4, 1994) and Hugh Taylor (September 28, 1947).

Jaguars rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew completed 88 percent of his pass attempts (22 of 25), the highest completion percentage (minimum 15 attempts) by a quarterback in his NFL debut in league annals. Minshew completed his first 13 pass attempts, the longest streak to start a career among players who made their NFL debut over the past 40 seasons.

Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott completed 25 of 32 attempts for 405 yards with four touchdowns and zero interceptions for a 158.3 rating in the Cowboys’ 35-17 victory against the New York Giants.

Prescott is the fourth quarterback to register a 158.3 passer rating, the highest attainable mark, on 30-or-more pass attempts in NFL history, joining Jared Goff (33 attempts on September 27, 2018), Ken O’Brien (32 attempts on November 2, 1986) and Pro Football Hall of Famer Kurt Warner (30 attempts on October 1, 2000).

The LOS ANGELES CHARGERS defeated Indianapolis 30-24 in overtime while Arizona and Detroit played to a 27-27 tie at State Farm Stadium on Kickoff Weekend. At least one game on Kickoff Weekend has gone to overtime in five of the past six seasons.

Sunday’s contest between the Cardinals and Lions marked the second consecutive season in which a game ended in a tie in Week 1 and the third tie overall on Kickoff Weekend. The Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns tied on September 9, 2018, while the Miami Dolphins and Denver Broncos played to a 10-10 tie on September 19, 1971.

Chargers running back Austin Ekeler totaled 154 scrimmage yards (96 receiving, 58 rushing) and three touchdowns (two receiving, one rushing) in the victory. Ekeler is the first undrafted player to record at least 150 scrimmage yards, two receiving touchdowns and a rushing touchdown in a single game since Dan Reeves (156 scrimmage yards, two receiving touchdowns and two receiving touchdowns) on November 5, 1967.

Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald recorded eight catches for 113 yards and one touchdown, the 117th touchdown catch of his NFL career. He surpassed Antonio Gates (116 touchdown receptions) for the sixth-most in NFL history.

Philadelphia wide receiver DeSean Jackson had 154 receiving yards and two touchdowns, including 51-yard and 53-yard touchdown catches, in the Eagles’ 32-27 win against Washington. He has six career games of at least 100 receiving yards on Kickoff Weekend, tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer Michael Irvin (six) for the most 100-yard receiving games on Kickoff Weekend in NFL history.

Jackson has 31 career touchdowns of at least 50 yards and surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer Randy Moss (29) for the second-most in NFL history. Only Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerry Rice (36) has more in league annals.

Other notable performances from Sunday include:

Carolina running back Christian McCaffrey had 129 rushing yards and two touchdowns, along with 10 receptions for 81 yards, in the Panthers’ Week 1 loss against the Los Angeles Rams.

McCaffrey, who also had 125 rushing yards and 11 receptions in Week 12 of the 2018 season, is the first player in the Super Bowl era to record at least 120 rushing yards and 10 receptions in multiple games.

New York Jets running back Le’Veon Bell totaled 92 scrimmage yards (60 rushing, 32 receiving) and a touchdown reception in the Jets’ Week 1 loss at home agaisnt Buffalo.

Bell, who has 8,088 scrimmage yards in 63 career games, surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson (64 games) to become the fastest player to reach 8,000 scrimmage yards in NFL history.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN WEEK TWO

NO NEED TO PANIC: Since realignment in 2002, 126 of the 204 playoff teams (61.8 percent) began the year at either 1-1 or 0-2, including 10 teams last season, the most since 2002, and six division champions – Baltimore (AFC North), Chicago (NFC North), Dallas (NFC East), Houston (AFC South), New England (AFC East) and New Orleans (NFC South).​

Last season, Houston became the first team in NFL history to win nine consecutive games following an 0-3 start. They also were the first team to win its division after starting 0-3 since the San Diego Chargers in 1992.

A look at how playoff clubs in 2017 and 2018 began their seasons:

2017
Team (After 2 games, Playoff Result)
ATLANTA (2-0, Advanced to NFC Divisional)
Buffalo (1-1, Advanced to AFC Wild Card)
Carolina (2-0, Advanced to NFC Wild Card)
Jacksonville (1-1, Advanced to AFC Championship)
Kansas City (2-0, Advanced to AFC Wild Card)
Los Angeles Rams (1-1, Advanced to NFC Wild Card)
Kansas City (2-0, Advanced to AFC Championship)
Los Angeles Chargers (1-1, Advanced to AFC Divisional)
Los Angeles Rams (2-0, Advanced to Super Bowl LIII)
Philadelphia (1-1, Won Super Bowl LII)
Pittsburgh (2-0, Advanced to AFC Divisional)
Tennessee (1-1, Advanced to AFC Divisional)
2018​
Team (After 2 games, Playoff Result)
Baltimore (1-1, Advanced to AFC Wild Card)
Chicago (1-1, Advanced to NFC Wild Card)
Dallas (1-1, Advanced to NFC Divisional)
Houston (0-2, Advanced to AFC Wild Card)
Indianapolis (1-1, Advanced to AFC Divisional
Minnesota (1-1, Advanced to NFC Championship)
New England (1-1, Advanced to Super Bowl LII)
New Orleans (0-2, Advanced to Divisional)
New England (1-1, Won Super Bowl LIII)
New Orleans (1-1, Advanced to NFC Championship)
Philadelphia (1-1, Advanced to NFC Divisional)
Seattle (0-2, Advanced to NFC Wild Card)

LEADING OFF: Arizona rookie quarterback Kyler Murray threw for 308 yards and two touchdowns in his NFL debut against Detroit on Kickoff Weekend.

With 300 passing yards on Sunday at Baltimore, Murray can join Cam Newton (2011) as the only players to pass for at least 300 yards in each of their first two career games in NFL history.

If Murray repeats his Week 1 performance by passing for at least 300 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday, he would become the first player in league history to pass for at least 300 yards and two touchdowns in each of their first two career games.

JACK & DAK IN THE BOX: Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson passed for 324 yards and five touchdowns in Week 1, while Dallas quarterback DAK PRESCOTT threw for 405 yards and four touchdowns. They became the first players to record a 158.3 passer rating – the highest-attainable mark – in a season opener (min. 20 attempts) in NFL history. Jackson, at 22 years, 244 days-old, became the youngest player in NFL history with a perfect passer rating (min. 20 attempts).

If Jackson or Prescott pass for at least four touchdowns on Sunday, they would join Ryran Fitzpatrick (2018), Patrick Mahomes (2018) and Drew Bledsoe (1997) as the only players in NFL history to pass for at least four touchdowns in each of their team’s first two games of a season.

The players to throw at least four touchdowns in each of their team’s first two games of a season in NFL history:

PLAYER – SEASON; TEAM (GAME 1 PASSING TDs/GAME 2 PASSING TDs)

Ryan Fitzpatrick – 2018; Tampa Bay (4/4)
Patrick Mahomes – 2018; Kansas City (4/6)
Drew Bledsoe – 1997; New England (4/4)
Lamar Jackson – 2019; Baltimore (5/???)
Dak Prescott – 2019; Dallas (4/???)

Additionally, dating back to Week 17 of 2018, Prescott has recorded at least 350 passing yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions in consecutive games. Prescott can become the first player to pass for at least 350 yards and four touchdowns without an interception in three consecutive games in NFL history.​​

Week 2 features two matchups between Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks as Jackson, the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner, faces off with Arizona’s Kyler, the 2018 Heisman winner, while Thursday night’s matchup featured Tampa Bay’s Jzmdix Winston (2013) and Carolina’s Cam Newton (2010). This marks the first time in which two games feature Heisman-winning starting quarterbacks in the same week in NFL history.

ROOKIE RECEIVERS: In Week 1, four rookies – Tennessee wide receiver A.J. Brown (100 receiving yards – selected in the second round, 51st overall, out of Mississippi), Baltimore wide receiver MARQUISE BROWN (147 – selected in the first round, 25th overall, out of Oklahoma), Detroit tight end T.J. Hockenson (131 – selected in the first round, 8th overall, out of Iowa) and Washington wide receiver Terry McLaurin (125 – selected in the third round, 76th overall, out of Ohio State) – each recorded at least 100 receiving yards in their NFL debuts. It marked the first week in which three-or-more rookies have each recorded at least 100 receiving yards in their debuts in NFL history.

With at least 100 receiving yards in Week 2, they would join WILL Will Fuller (2016), DeSean Jackson (2008) and Don Looney (1940) as the only players in NFL history to record at least 100 receiving yards in each of their first two career games.

The players to record at least 100 receiving yards in each of their first two career games:

PLAYER – SEASON (TEAM, GAME 1 REC. YARDS/GAME 2 REC. YARDS)
Will Fuller – 2016 (Houston, 107/104)
DeSean Jackson – 2008 (Philadelphia, 106/110)

Don Looney – 1940 (Philadelphia, 115/129)
A.J. Brown – 2019 (Tennessee, 100/???)
Marquise Brown – 2019 (Baltimore, 147/???)
T.J. Hockenson – 2019 (Detroit, 131/???)
Terry McLaurin – 2019 (Washington, 125/???)

Additionally, with two touchdown receptions on Sunday vs. Arizona, Marquise Brown can become the first player in NFL history to record at least two touchdown receptions in each of his first two career games.

SCHUSTER & LADDERS: Pittsburgh wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster has 2,421 career receiving yards and 14 receiving touchdowns in 31 career games.

Smith-Schuster, who will be 22 years and 297 days old on Sunday vs. Seattle, needs 79 receiving yards to surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer Randy Moss (22 years, 310 days) as the youngest player in NFL history to reach 2,500 career receiving yards. ​

The youngest players to reach 2,500 career receiving yards in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (AGE)
Randy Moss (HOF), Minnesota (22 years, 310 days)
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona (23 years, 31 days)
Mike Evans, Tampa Bay (23 years, 35 days)
Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland (23 years, 39 days)
JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh (22 years, 297 days*)
*On Sunday

GET YOUR KITTLE CORN READY: San Francisco tight end George Kittle has 1,946 career receiving yards in 32 career games and set the NFL record for most receiving yards by a tight end (1,377) in a single season in NFL history in 2018.

With 54 receiving yards on Sunday at Cincinnati, Kittle would tie Dave Kocourek (33 games) as the third-fastest tight end to reach 2,000 career receiving yards in NFL history. The only tight ends to reach 2,000 career receiving yards in fewer games o Pro Football Hall of Famers Mike Ditka (30 games) and Kellen Winslow Sr. (31 games). ​

The tight ends to reach 2,000 career receiving yards in the fewest games in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (GAMES TO REACH 2,000 REC. YARDS)
Mike Ditka (HOF), Chicago (30)
Kellen Winslow Sr. (HOF), San Diego (31)
Dave Kocourek, Los Angeles/San Diego Chargers (33)
Rob Gronkowski, New England (34)
Kellen Winslow Jr., Cleveland (34)
George Kittle, San Francisco (32)* (1,946 yards)
*Has 1,946 receiving yards in 32 career games

Week two got underway in Charlotte Thursday night as Tampa Bay and Jameis Winston edged out Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers in a NFC South matchup featuring two former Heisman winners in a contest that was delayed by bad weather. The week comes to an end in upstate New Jersey as the New York Jets hosts Cleveland in primetime at 8 p,m. on ESPN. As for last week, 7-9 was not all that great but it was better than nothing. An NFL season is a marathon, not a sprint and as Chris Berman says “That’s why they play the games!” With that, here are the Sunday and Monday picks for week two.

Philadelphia (1-0) at ATLANTA (0-1), 8:20 p.m. on NBC. Cheese steak meets chicken and waffles as Carson Wentz and the Philadelphia Eagles travel to the Big Peach to face off against Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons. While the Eagles come off a win at home against Washington last Sunday, the Falcons look to even their record after a loss on the road to Minnesota in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

Philadelphia erased a 20-7 deficit at the half last Sunday against NFC East rival Washington and proceeded to outscore the Redskins 25-7 to come away 32-27 winners at Lincoln Financial Field. Wentz threw for 313 yards and no interceptions, while the Eagles outrushed Washington 123-28, with Case Keenum throwing for 380 yards (both men threw three TDs and both were sacked once without an interception). Philadelphia went 11 of 17 on third down tries (the Eagles were 1 for 2 on fourth down) and they would ruled the clock and keep the ball for 34:27, while the Redskins kept the ball for 25:33, going 5 of 13 on third down, 2 of 2 on fourth down.

The Falcons found themselves being shut out for three quarters at Minnesota in the season opener for both clubs, struggling and leaving the Twin Cities with the 28-12 loss. Atlanta trailed 21-0 at the break and could never really get on track until the final 15 minutes of play when Calvin Ridley and Julio Jones each TD passes from Ryan. Minnesota ran roughshod on Atlanta, outrushing the Falcons 172-73 (Minnesota’s Delvin Cook led all rushers with 111 yards and a rushing TD), while Ryan threw for 304 yards with the two TDs but was sacked four times and picked off twice, while Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins threw for 98 yards with a TD toss to Adam Thielen (Cousins was sacked once but did not throw an interception). While Atlanta was 2 for 8 on third down at US Bank Stadium, they struck gold on fourth down, going 2 for 2 and actually ruled the clock, as they kept the ball for 30:13, while the Vikings held the ball for 29:47, going 5 for 10 on third down tries.

Philadelphia leads the series 17-13-1, the Eagles have outscored Atlanta 670-574 and have come away with wins in the last two regular season meetings, including an 18-12 win last year in the City of Brotherly Love (Atlanta’s last win in the series came in the Big Peach by a final of 26-24 in the old Georgia Dome). The two clubs didn’t wait around long to meet as they faced off in the season opener on a Thursday night. Atlanta led 6-3 at the break before the Eagles, fresh off a Super Bowl victory over New England, would go on to outscore the Falcons 15-6 in the final 30 minutes of play, taking the lead for good with an 11-yard run by Joseph Ajayi and a two-point conversion by Ajayi with 2:19 left in regulation. Atlanta’s Tevin Coleman gave the Falcons the lead temporarily with 9:48 left in the contest before Ajayi scored his second TD of the night, sending Eagles fans home happy after Philadelphia held off a late Atlanta rally in the final seconds of the contest.

Philadelphia outrushed Atlanta 113-74 and Nick Foles, not Wentz, threw for 117 yards, while Ryan threw for 251 yards (Ryan was sacked four times, Foles was sacked twice, both threw an interception). Atlanta on third down tries went 4 of 15 (they were 0 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 27:50, while the Eagles ruled the clock and kept the pigskin for 32:10, while going 50 percent on third down at 8 for 16.

In the week one meeting in the City of Brotherly Love, the Eagles were favored by 1 point and the over/under was a whopping 45. Philadelphia covered, winning by 6 but neither team covered the over/under, as the two clubs combined to score 30 points. In the Sunday night contest in the Deep South, Philadelphia’s a 1-point favorite again but this time the over/under’s 51. Aw, what the heck… let’s make this one “DRILL WORTHY!” (For those of you that know what The Drill is, you are excused. Everyone else, pay attention. We don’t want any rookie mistakes here, k?) After you go to the 9:30 mass on Sunday (the 4:30 vigil mass on Saturday counts as a mass attended, people! Don’t make us send the nuns after you! If we do, it is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OVER!), head to your favorite store (a trip to Wal Mart, Target, K-Mart or Costco counts) and get the vittles and the beverages (soda, beer, wine, coffee, et al… if you live in a state that allows the purchase of the items in question) and invite the co-workers, the neighbors (including that really cute kindergarden teacher that knows what to do with a cover-2 defense) and your cousin Connie (remember her? She’s the one that’s been married twice that’s just turned 59 last June and dates a 43-year old ex-Marine, who’s now the vice principal 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?”)

Philadelphia looks to go 2-0. Atlanta looks to even their record and get revenge at home for the loss to the Eagles last year. Revenge is a dish best served cold, the saying goes and the Falcons will be feasting. Atlanta covers the 1 in the Big Peach and comes away with the Sunday night win.

Arizona (0-0-1) at Baltimore (1-0), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 710. A pair of young singal callers meet in Charm City as the Baltimore Ravens host the Arizona Cardinals in an early afternoon (early morning Phoenix time) kick off with number one round pick Kyler Murray facing off against Lamar Jackson at M&T Bank Stadium.

Arizona trailed Detroit 17-3 at the half (the two played a scoreless first quarter), then rallied to even things up with 43 seconds left when Murray and all-pro WR Larry Fitzgerald (8 catches for 113 yards) connected on a 4-yard TD toss, then went for two and found success as Murray and WR Christian Kirk connected on the two-point try to tie things up at 24-24. After the Cardinals held off a late Detroit rally that would have given the Lions the win in regulation, the two clubs went to overtime and Arizona won the toss, making their way down the field. The Desert Angry Birds would get themselves as close as Detroit’s 10-yard line, coming no closer as Zane Gonzalez connected on a 28-yard field goal in the overtime. Detroit and Matthew Stafford would get the ball back in the extra period and they would make their way down the field themselves, with Arizona stopping them at their 15-yard, forcing the Lions to use Matt Prater’s leg to re-tie the contest at 27-27. Arizona got the ball back, moving as far as the Lions’ 46-yard before they had to punt, giving Detroit the ball back with 59 seconds left. Detroit’s drive sputtered in their final chance to reclaim the lead and their drive got them only to their 10-yard line, ending the contest.

Detroit barely outrushed Arizona 116-112 and Murray threw for 308 yards with five sacks and an interception, while Stafford threw for 385 yards and three sacks (Murray threw a pair of TDs, including the TD that put the Desert Angry Birds to within two, while Stafford threw three TDs, one to WR Danny Amendola). The two clubs were a combined 15 for 40 on third down tries in the desert (Arizona was 9 of 22, Detroit was 6 of 18; the Lions were 0 for 1 on fourth down) and Detroit ruled the clock and held on to the ball for 39:23 to Arizona’s 30:37.

Baltimore manhandled Miami in the Sunshine State last Sunday, taking the Dolphins to task and the woodshed by a 59-10 final.
The Ravens led 42-10 at the half at Hard Rock Stadium and never looked back in the lopsided season opener and would score an additional 17 second-half points unchallenged. While rushing for 265 yards (Mark Ingram led the way with 107 yards and a pair of TDs), the Ravens held Miami to a dismal 21 yards. Jackson threw for 324 yards and five TDs, connecting with fellow rookie WR Marquise Brown on two of those tosses, while Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 185 yards and a TD with a pair of sacks and an interception. Baltimore was 7 for 11 on third down (the Ravens were perfect on fourth down, going 2 of 2) and held on to the pigskin for 40:07, while Miami was 3 for 10 on third down, keeping the pigskin for 19:53.

The Ravens hold a 4-2 lead in the series and Baltimore has outscored the Desert Angry Birds 126-117. Their last meeting was in 2015 in the desert and the Cardinals broke a three-game losing streak against Baltimore, taking a 26-18 win at State Farm Stadium. Baltimore’s last win in the series came in Charm City, as they would take a 30-27 win in 2011. Baltimore’s favored by 13 1/2 and the over/under’s 46 1/2. The 46 1/2 makes sense… the 13 1/2 has us scratching our heads. Baltimore is good but they’re not 13 1/2 good. Still, the Ravens prevail in Charm City and takes the win at home.

San Francisco (1-0) at Cincinnati (0-1), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 711. Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers travel to the shores of the Ohio River as they face off against Andy Dalton and the Cinicnnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. Both teams were on the road in their season openers, with San Francisco winning in the Sunshine State, while Cincinnati saw Seattle rally in the Pacific Northwest to fall by a point.

The 49ers trailed Jameis Winston and Tampa Bay 7-6 at the intermission at Raymond James Stadium, then proceeded to outscore the Bucs 25-10 in the final 30 minutes of play to come away 31-17 in the Sunshine State. Tampa Bay did outrush San Francisco 121-98 but turned the ball over four times in the loss. Winston threw for 121 yards and a TD but was picked off three times and sacked once, while Garoppolo threw for 166 yards with a TD and an interception. Tampa Bay was 5 of 11 on third down (0 of 2 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 29:56, while the 49ers ruled the clock and kept the ball for 30:04, while going 5 for 13 on third down conversions.

Cincinnati let a 17-14 halftime lead get away from them in Seattle as the Seahawks and Russell Wilson stormed back to take a 21-20 win in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks. Wilson, despite being sacked four times, threw for 196 yards and a pair of TDs, while Dalton threw for 418 yards in the Pacific Northwest (Dalton also threw a pair of TDs; Dalton was sacked five times, while Wilson was sacked four times, neither man threw an interception). Neither club came close to the 100-yard rushing barrier but Seattle did outrush the Bengals 72-34 and Seattle, who forced three Bengals fumbles, went 4 of 12 on third down tries and kept the ball for 24:10. Cincinnati actually ruled the clock in the loss, keeping the pigskin for 35:50 and went 6 of 15 on third down, 0 for 1 on fourth down.

The 49ers hold a 9-4 lead in the series and San Francisco has outscored Cincinnati 286-255. Their last meeting took place in 2015 in San Francisco at old Candlestick Park by a final of 24-14, while the 49ers’ last win in the series came in Cincinnati by a 13-8 tally in 2011. Cincinnati’s favored by a point and the over/under’s 44 1/2. These two teams struggled to keep their heads above water last year and while they’re not exactly world beaters yet, this one might be worth your time. Bengals cover the 1 along the shores of the Ohio River and takes the win at home.

Los Angeles Chargers (1-0) at Detroit (0-0-1), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 705. Phililp Rivers vs. Matthew Stafford. A pair of future Hall of Fame qbs meet in the Motor City for an afternoon (early morning in Los Angeles) contest at Ford Field. Both teams played overtime contests last Sunday in their openers with the Chargers coming away winners at home, while the Lions fought for a tie in the desert.

Rivers and the Bolts led Indianapolis 17-6 at the intermisson at Dignity Health Sports Park, only to watch Jacoby Brissett and WR T.Y. Hilton connect on a 19-yard TD pass with 38 seconds left in regulation before RB Austin Ekeler scored on a 7-yard run with 5:01 left in the extra period to take a 30-24 win at home. Indianapolis outrushed the Chargers 203-125 and Colts RB Marlon Mack led all rushers with 174 yards and a TD of his own, while Ekeler ran for 58 yards and the OT game-winner. Rivers threw for 333 yards and three TDs with four sacks and an interception, while Jacoby Brissett threw for 190 yards and a pair of TDs and a pair of sacks. The Chargers went 7 of 11 on third down tries on the West Coast and kept the ball for 32:50 (including the overtime), while the Colts kept the ball for 32:09 and went 7 of 13 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down.

Detroit led Arizona 17-3 at the half (the two played a scoreless first quarter), then watched the Cardinals rally to take a 27-27 overtime tie in the desert. Arizona would even things up with 43 seconds left when rookie QB Kyler Murray and all-pro WR Larry Fitzgerald (8 catches for 113 yards) connected on a 4-yard TD toss, then went for two and found success as Murray and WR Christian Kirk connected on the two-point try to tie things up at 24-24. After the Cardinals held off a late Detroit rally that would have given the Lions the win in regulation, the two clubs went to overtime and Arizona won the toss, making their way down the field. The Desert Angry Birds would get themselves as close as Detroit’s 10-yard line, coming no closer as Zane Gonzalez connected on a 28-yard field goal in the overtime. Detroit and Matthew Stafford would get the ball back in the extra period and they would make their way down the field themselves, with Arizona stopping them at their 15-yard, forcing the Lions to use Matt Prater’s leg to re-tie the contest at 27-27. Arizona got the ball back, moving as far as the Lions’ 46-yard before they had to punt, giving Detroit the ball back with 59 seconds left. Detroit’s drive sputtered in their final chance to reclaim the lead and their drive got them only to their 10-yard line, ending the contest.

Detroit barely outrushed Arizona 116-112 and Murray threw for 308 yards with five sacks and an interception, while Stafford threw for 385 yards and three sacks (Murray threw a pair of TDs, including the TD that put the Desert Angry Birds to within two, while Stafford threw three TDs, one to WR Danny Amendola). The two clubs were a combined 15 for 40 on third down tries in the desert (Arizona was 9 of 22, Detroit was 6 of 18; the Lions were 0 for 1 on fourth down) and Detroit ruled the clock and held on to the ball for 39:23 to Arizona’s 30:37.

Including games that took place in San Diego, the Chargers lead the series 7-4 but the Lions have outscored the Bolts 250-244. Their last meeting? 2015 in San Diego and the Chargers and Rivers came away with the 33-28 win, while Detroit’s last win in the series came in the Motor City by a final of 38-10 in 2011. The Chargers find themselves being favored by 2 1/2 on the road and the over/under is 47 1/2. These teams would like nothing more than to not play another overtime game. Chargers cover the 2 1/2 and win in the Motor City.

Minnesota (1-0) at Green Bay (1-0), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 712. A pair of NFC North (or NFC Norris, as Chris Berman calls it) meet in the land of cheese, beer and Bratwurst as Green Bay hosts the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau. Both teams took wins in their openers last week.

Minnesota held Atlanta scoreless for three quarters at Minnesota in the season opener for both clubs, coming away 28-12 winners in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Minnesota led 21-0 at the break and Atlanta could never really get on track until the final 15 minutes of play when Calvin Ridley and Julio Jones each TD passes from Matt Ryan. Minnesota ran roughshod on Atlanta, outrushing the Falcons 172-73 (Minnesota’s Delvin Cook led all rushers with 111 yards and a rushing TD), while Ryan threw for 304 yards with the two TDs but was sacked four times and picked off twice, while Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins threw for 98 yards with a TD toss to Adam Thielen (Cousins was sacked once but did not throw an interception). While Atlanta was 2 for 8 on third down at US Bank Stadium, they struck gold on fourth down, going 2 for 2 and actually ruled the clock, as they kept the ball for 30:13, while the Vikings held the ball for 29:47, going 5 for 10 on third down tries.

Green Bay won their season opener last Thursday night against Chicago at Soldier Field. After trailing 3-0 at the end of the first quarter, the Packers took a 7-3 lead with them to the locker room, added a 39-yard field goal by Mason Crosby, then held off a late Chicago rally to take a 10-3 win in the Windy City. The lone TD in the contest came when Aaron Rodgers and Jimmy Graham connected on an 8-yard TD toss early in the second quarter after Chicago’s Eddy Pineiro opened the scoring in the contest with a 38-yard field goal late in the first quarter. The contest was nothing to write home about as far as rushing yardage was concerned and neither team breached the 50-yard mark, let alone the 100-yard mark. Green Bay barely outrushed Chicago 47-46 and Rodgers threw for 203 yards with the only TD in the contest, while Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky threw for 228 yards with an interception (both men were sacked five times). Green Bay was a dismal 2 of 12 on third down and kept the ball for 31:03, while Chicago would keep the ball for 28:57, going 3 of 15 and 0 of 2 on third and fourth downs.

Green Bay leads the series 59-53-3 and the Packers have outscored the Purple People Eaters 2,505-2,242. The Vikings have won three of the last four meetings in the series, tying in the land of beer, cheese and Bratwurst and taking a win in the Land of 10,000 Lakes in their last two contests. Green Bay’s last win over the Vikings? 2106 on the Frozen Tundra by a final of 38-25.

Meeting number one… Lambeau Field in week two. Rodgers and Green Bay led 20-7 after three quarters of play (the Packers led 17-7 at the intermission), only to watch the Vikings outscore them in the fourth quarter 22-9 to come away with the 29-29 overtime tie. Mason Crosby kicked five field goals for the Packers, only to watch the Vikings tie things up in regulation with 31 seconds left when Cousins and Thielen connected on a 22-yard TD toss to pull themselve to within two, then tied things up when Cousins and Stefan Diggs connected on a two-point conversion. The two clubs then proceeded to play scoreless football in the overtime. Green Bay outrushed Minnesota 98-68, Rodgers would throw for 281 yards and a TD (Rodgers was sacked four times), while Cousins threw for 425 yards and four TDs (he was sacked twice and threw an interception). Minnesota was 7 of 14 on third down conversions in upstate Wisconsin and kept the ball for 31:52, while Green Bay kept the pigskin for 38:08 and went 4 for 13 on third down.

First meeting in the books, right?

Second meeting… Minneapolis and US Bank Stadium in week 12 and while the second meeting was close, the Vikings prevailed at home by a final of 24-17. Green Bay and Minnesota played to a 17-17 tie at the half, then floored the gas in the second half, outscoring Green Bay 10-3 in the final 30 minutes to take the win. Minnesota outrushed Green Bay 91-82 in the Land of 10,000 Lakes and Rodgers threw for 198 yards and a TD (four sacks), while Cousins threw for 342 yards and three TDs (connecting with Thielen and Diggs on two of the tosses with a pair of sacks; neither man threw an interception). Minnesota was 7 of 14 on third down conversions, while the Packers struggled, going 2 of 10 (both clubs were 0 for 1 on fourth down tries) and Minnesota ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 34:37 to Green Bay’s 25:23.

In the week two contest at Lambeau, Green Bay was favored by 2 but neither team covered the spread because of the tie but the 58 points that were scored were more than enough to cover the 46 over/under. In the second meeting in week 12 in the Twin Cities, the Vikings covered the 3 1/2 point spread, winning by 7 but came up short of the 48 over/under by 7. This time around, the Packers are favored by 2 1/2 and the over/under is 44 1/2. The winner will have first place all to themselves in the NFC North. Green Bay prevails in the land of cheese, beer and Bratwurst, covering the 2 1/2 at Lambeau.

Jacksonville (0-1) at Houston (0-1), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 706. A pair of winless AFC South rivals meet in the Lone Star State as J.J. Watt and the Houston Texans host Jacksonville at NRG Stadium. Both clubs look to break into the win column after losses in their season openers.

The Jaguars lost at home 40-26 to Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs at TIAA Bank Field last Sunday. The Chiefs led 23-13 at the break, then proceeded to floor the gas in the final 30 minutes of play to take the win in the Sunshine State. Kansas City outrushed Jacksonville 113-81, with Chiefs RB LeSean McCoy leading the way with 81 yards. Mahomes threw for 378 yards with three TD tosses to WR Sammy Irvin without a sack or interception, while Jaguar rookie QB Gardner Minshew threw for 275 yards with a pair of TDs but was sacked once and threw an interception. Both Kansas City and Jacksonville went 5 for 10 on third down conversions and the Chiefs ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 31:15 to Jacksonville’s 28:45.

Houston looks to right its ship at home after they let a 14-3 halftime lead at New Orleans get away from them as the Saints opened their 2019 campaign with a 30-28 come-from-behind last-second win over the Texans Monday night in the Big Easy. After a scoreless first quarter, the Texans took the 11-point lead at the intermission thanks to a pair of TDs from DeAndre Hopkins and DeSean Watson. The Saints would go on to outscore Houston 27-14 in the last 30 minutes of action, with the game winner coming from K Wil Lutz as time expired. New Orelans set up the game winning drive, getting ball back with 37 seconds left and used a 6-play, 35-yard drive that used all of the 37 seconds remaining in regulation. Houston outrushed New Orleans 180-148 and Waston threw for 268 yards and three TDs with six sacks and an interception, while Drew Brees threw for 370 yards with a sack and an interception. Both teams did well on third down conversions in the Monday night contest (Houston was 7 of 13, the Texans were 1 of 1 on fourth down; New Orleans was 7 of 11) and New Orleans ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 30:13, while the Texans held on to the pigskin for 29:47.

The Texans lead the series 21-13, have outscored the Jaguars 747-678 and swept last year’s two-game series (Jacksonville’s last win over Houston came in 2017 in the Sunshine State by a final of 45-7).

Meeting number one… Jacksonville in week seven and the Texans held the Jaguars to a third-quarter TD pass from Cody Keesler to T.Y. Hilton to take a 20-7 win at TIAA Bank Field. Houston led 13-0 at the intermission and was in control throughout the contest. Houston outrushed Jacksonville 141-70 with Texans RB Lamar Miller leading all rushers with 100 yards and a TD. Watson threw for 139 yards and a TD and a sack but did not throw an interception, while Keesler threw for 156 yards with the lone TD toss (Keesler was sacked four times and picked off once). Houston, forcing three Jacksonville turnovers in the Sunshine State, went 8 of 16 on third down and kept the ball for 29:35, while Jacksonville ruled the clock, holding the pigskin for 30:25, going 9 of 19 on third down, 0 for 1 on fourth down.

The Texans completed the sweep in the second meeting, which took place in the Lone Star State in week 17. Houston had no problem with the Jaguars, holding Jacksonville to a Kai Forbath field goal in the first quarter and scored their 20 points unchallenged to take a 20-3 win in the season finale for both clubs. Watson and Miller accounted for both Texans TDs in the win that prepared them for the post-season. Houston held Jacksonville to 30 yards rushing and sacked Blake Bortles (107 yards) three times and picked him off once, while Watson threw for 234 yards, although he was sacked six times. The Texans were 6 of 17 on third down but were perfect on fourth down in their only try, keeping the ball for 35:07, while Jacksonville kept it for 24:53, going 3 of 13 on third down tries.

Jacksonville was favored by 4 1/2 points in the week seven contest in the Sunshine State and Houston covered, winning by 13. Neither club covered the 42 1/2 over/under, as both teams combined for 27 points. In the season finale in the Lone Star State, the Texans easily covered the 7-point spread, winning by 17 but as was the case in the first meeting, neither club covered the pver/under of 40 1/2, tallying only 23 points. Houston’s favored by 8 1/2 in the Lone Star State and the over/under’s 43 1/2. Houston takes this one at home but expect the Jaguars to make things closer than 8 1/2.

New England (1-0) at Miami (0-1), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 707. They meet again. A pair of AFC East rivals square off in Miami as Tom Brady and the New England Patriots take on the Miami Dolphis in Miami Shores.

The defending Super Bowl champs raised their sixth banner last Sunday night in Foxboro, then proceeeded to hold Pittsburgh and Ben Roethlisberger (276 yards, interception, sack) to a Chris Boswell field goal in the third quarter as they manhandled the Steelers 33-3 at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots led 20-0 at the break, then outscored their guests from the Steel City 13-3 in the last 30 minutes of action. New England rushed for 99 yards in the lopsided win, holding the Steelers to 32 yards on the ground and Brady threw for 341 yards and three TDs without an interception (he was sacked once). New England was 7 of 14 on third down conversions and held the ball for 32:33, while the Dolphins went 27:27 in possession time, going 3 of 12 on third down, 1 of 3 on fourth down.

Miami in the Sunshine State last Sunday, found themselves being taken to task and the woodshed by a 59-10 final at home last Sunday against Baltimore. The Dolphins trailed 42-10 at the half at Hard Rock Stadium and never looked back in the lopsided season opener and would score an additional 17 second-half points unchallenged. While rushing for 265 yards (Mark Ingram led the way with 107 yards and a pair of TDs), the Ravens held Miami to a dismal 21 yards. Jackson threw for 324 yards and five TDs, connecting with fellow rookie WR Marquise Brown on two of those tosses, while Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 185 yards and a TD with a pair of sacks and an interception. Baltimore was 7 for 11 on third down (the Ravens were perfect on fourth down, going 2 of 2) and held on to the pigskin for 40:07, while Miami was 3 for 10 on third down, keeping the pigskin for 19:53.

Miami leads the series 54-50 and including games that were played in Boston’s Fenway Park and the Orange Bowl, the Dolphins have outscored New England 2,268-2,239. The two clubs split last season’s contests, with each team taking wins at home.

Meeting number one? Foxboro. Week four. Miami found themselves held to a fourth-quarter TD as the Patriots took care of Miami 38-7. Leading 24-0 at the half and 31-0 after three quarters, Brady and the Pats burned Miami for 274 yards and three TDs, despite throwing two interceptions (Ryan Tannehill threw for 100 yards with a sack and interception for Miami), while the Pats ran for 175 yards (New England’s Sony Michel led all rushers with 112 yards and a TD), holding Miami to 56 yards on the ground. New England went 10 of 15 on third down conversions in Foxboro and held on to the ball for 36:22, while the Dolphins were 3 for 11 on third down (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 23:38.

Round two… Miami in week 14 and the Dolphins would get some last-second revenge on Brady (358 yards, three TDs, two sacks) in the Sunshine State, erasing a 27-21 deficit at the intermission to come away 34-33 winners at Hard Rock Stadium. New England led by 6 at the break, then watched Miami chip away at the lead as the Dolphins used a 1-play, 69-yard drive that used all of the 16 seconds left in the contest with no time outs to come away with the win and send their fans home happy, thanks to a hook-and-ladder pass from Ryan Tannehill (265 yards, three TDs, 4 sacks) to DeVante Parker, who pitcher the ball to Kenyon Drake, who took it 52 yards into the end zone for the game winner. Miami outrushed New England 189-77 with Frank Gore leading the way with 92 yards on the ground. New England was 9 of 16 on third down tries and held the ball for 35:14, while Miami kept the pigskin for 24:46, including the final 16 seconds of the contest, going 1 of 7 on third down.

In the week four contest in Foxboro, New England easily covered the 7-point spread, winning by 31 but both clubs missed the 47 1/2 over/under, scoring 45 points. In the rematch in the Sunshine State, New England was favored again, this time by 8 1/2 but Miami won by a single point. Both clubs did cover the 47 1/2 over/under with 67 points. The odds makers in Vegas have made New England a 19-point road favorite with a 47 1/2 over/under. The 47 1/2 is reasonable. 19 points? Seriously? The Dolphins were a bad team last week but they’re not 19 points bad. History does have a strange way of repeating itself and while Miami’s not going to cover the 19, they will take the win in the Sunshine State.

Buffalo (1-0) at New York Giants (0-1), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 708. The Bills spend another week in upstate New Jersey as they square off against Eli Manning and the New York Football Giants at Met Life Stadium. The Bills come off a huge win over the Jets in their season opener, while the Giants return home from a loss against NFC East foe Dallas.

Buffalo erased a 16-3 deficit after three quarters of play (they trailed 6-0 at the half) and scored 14 fourth quarter points against Sam Darnold (175 yards, TD, four sacks) and the New York Jets unchallenged to escape Met Life Stadium with a 17-16 win. Bills QB Josh Allen (254 yards) used his arm and legs in the final 15 minutes of action, rushing for a 1-yard score early in the fourth and then connecting with WR Josh Brown with three minutes left in regulation to take the win. Buffalo outrushed the Jets 128-68, with Bills rookie RB Devin Singletary leading all rushers with 70. Buffalo was 5 of 10 on third down tries (they were 0 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 27:59, while the Jets were 32:01 in time of possession, going 7 of 17 and 1 of 2 on third and fourth downs.

Manning (306 yards, sack) and TE Evan Engram gave the Giants the early lead against Dallas and Dak Prescott (405 yards, four TDs) only to see that lead get away from them as the Cowboys scored 21 points in the first half unchallenged, losing on the road 35-17. Dallas took that 21-7 lead with them to the locker room and kept the Giants in check in the second half. New York did outrush Dallas 151-75 and Sequan Barkley led all rushers with 120 yards for the Giants at AT&T Stadium. The Giants were 2 of 11 on third down (they were 1 of 3 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 27:42, while Dallas ruled the clock and held the ball for 32:18, while going 6 of 10 on third down.

The series is all even at 6-6 and the Bills have outscored the Giants 220-219. However… Big Blue has won the last three meetings, including a 24-10 in 2015 in upstate New York, while Buffalo’s last win came in 2003 in the Meadowlands by a final of 24-7. The Bills are favored by 2 and the over/under’s 43 1/2. Giants avenge their Met Life Stadium neighors and pull the upset over the Bills, covering the 2.

Seattle (1-0) at Pittsburgh (0-1), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 713. Russell Wilson and Ben Roethlisberger meet in an early Sunday afternoon contest at Heinz Field. Seattle enters the contest win a win under their belts, while the Steelers look to resotre some order in the AFC.

Seattle erased a 17-14 halftime deficit in Seattle against the Bengals as the Seahawks and Wilson stormed back to take a 21-20 win in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks. Wilson, despite being sacked four times, threw for 196 yards and a pair of TDs, while Dalton threw for 418 yards in the Pacific Northwest (Dalton also threw a pair of TDs; Dalton was sacked five times, while Wilson was sacked four times, neither man threw an interception). Neither club came close to the 100-yard rushing barrier but Seattle did outrush the Bengals 72-34 and Seattle, who forced three Bengals fumbles, went 4 of 12 on third down tries and kept the ball for 24:10. Cincinnati actually ruled the clock in the loss, keeping the pigskin for 35:50 and went 6 of 15 on third down, 0 for 1 on fourth down.

Roethlisberger (276 yards, interception, sack) and the Steelers watched New England raise their Super Bowl sixth banner last Sunday night in Foxboro, then were held to a Chris Boswell field goal in the third quarter as they were manhandled 33-3 at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots led 20-0 at the break, then outscored their guests from the Steel City 13-3 in the last 30 minutes of action. New England rushed for 99 yards in the lopsided win, holding the Steelers to 32 yards on the ground and Brady threw for 341 yards and three TDs without an interception (he was sacked once). New England was 7 of 14 on third down conversions and held the ball for 32:33, while the Dolphins went 27:27 in possession time, going 3 of 12 on third down, 1 of 3 on fourth down.

Seattle leads the series 9-8 and the Seahawks have outscored Pittsburgh 318-272. Their last meeting was 2015 in the Pacific Northwest as the Seahawks held off Pittsburgh 39-30, while Pittsburgh’s last win came in the Steel City in 2011, as they shut out the Seahawks 24-0. Pittsburgh’s favored by 4 and the over/under is 46 1/2. Seattle will make it close but the Steelers get themselves in the win column at home and could cover the 4.

Indianapolis (0-1) at Tennessee (1-0), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 709. Jacoby Brissett and the Indianapolis Colts look for their first win of the 2019 campaign as they travel to Music City to face off against Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee Titans in an early AFC South matchup.

Brissett and Indianapolis trailed Philip Rivers and the Los Angeles Chargers 17-6 at the intermisson at Dignity Health Sports Park, then connected with WR T.Y. Hilton connect on a 19-yard TD pass with 38 seconds left in regulation before Chargers RB Austin Ekeler scored on a 7-yard run with 5:01 left in the extra period to fall to Philip Rivers and the Chargers 30-24. Indianapolis outrushed the Chargers 203-125 and Colts RB Marlon Mack led all rushers with 174 yards and a TD of his own, while Ekeler ran for 58 yards and the OT game-winner. Rivers threw for 333 yards and three TDs with four sacks and an interception, while Brissett threw for 190 yards and a pair of TDs and a pair of sacks. The Chargers went 7 of 11 on third down tries on the West Coast and kept the ball for 32:50 (including the overtime), while the Colts kept the ball for 32:09 and went 7 of 13 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down.

The Titans led Cleveland and Baker Mayfield 12-6 at the half at First Energy Stadium, then proceeded to outscore the Browns 31-7 in the final 30 minutes of play, coming away 43-13 winners along the shores of Lake Erie. The Titans outrushed the Browns 123-102 and made life less than pleasant for Mayfield (285 yards), sacking him five times (once for a safety) and picking him off three times, while Mariota had his way with Cleveland, throwing for 248 yards with three TDs and no interceptions, despite being sacked four times. Neither club did anything to write home about on third down tries (Tennessee was 2 of 10, the Browns were 1 of 10; Cleveland was 0 for 2 on fourth down) but the Browns ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 30:42 to Tennessee’s 29:18.

Including games that were played in Baltimore and Houston when the Titans were known as the Oilers, the Colts lead the series 33-15 and have outscored Tennessee 1,252-940. Indy swept the series last year, taking both wins in Nashville and Indianapolis (Tennessee’s last win in the series came in 2017, when they left Lucas Oil Stadium with a 20-16 win).

The first meeting was week 11 in the Hoosier State and the Colts got three TDs from Andrew Luck and came away with a 38-10 win in the Hoosier State. Leading 24-3 at the half, Indianapolis went on to outpace the Titans 14-7 in the final 30 minutes of action. The Colts outrushed Tennessee 102-87 and Luck threw for 297 yards and the three TDs without a sack or interception, while Mariota threw for 85 yards before being pulled after he was sacked four times and threw an interception. Indy went 5 of 10 on third down and ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 31:16, while the Titans were 6 of 14 on third down, keeping the ball for 28:44.

The Colts made it a clean sweep in their second meeting in week 17 in what would be Luck’s final game in an NFL uniform, as the Colts were 33-17 winners at Nissan Stadium. Leading 17-10 at the half, Indianapolis floored the gas in the final 30 minutes of play, outscoring Tennessee 16-7. Marlon Mack led all rushers with 119 yards and a TD as the Colts outrushed Tennessee 158-93 (Tennessee’s Derek Henry accounted for all of the Titans’ rushing yardage) and Luck threw for 285 yards and three TDs, despite being sacked once and picked off once, while Blaine Gabbert threw for 165 yards with a TD and a pair of picks. The Colts were 5 of 13 on third down (they did quite well on fourth down, going 1 of 1) and kept the ball for 40:13, while the Titans were 1 of 9 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth down, keeping the ball for 19:47.

In the week 11 contest at Lucas Oil, the Colts were favored by 2 1/2 and covered the spread, winning by 28 and both teams matched the 48 over/under. The Colts were favored by 3 in the Music City and covered, winning by 16 and both teams took care of the 43 1/2 over/under with 50 points. Tennessee’s favored by 3 and the over/under’s 44 1/2. Both of those numbers are reasonable. Titans cover the 3 in the Music City and takes the win at home.

Dallas (1-0) at Washington (0-1), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 714. Forget the records. These two teams DON’T like each other. Football’s answer to the Capulets vs. the Montagues, dogs vs. cats, Crips vs. Bloods, Hatfields vs. McCoys. See where we’re going with this? NFC East rivals Dallas and Washington meet in Landover in the first of their two meetings. Both clubs played divisional rivals in their season openers, with Dallas coming away with a win at home, while the Redskins blew a lead on the road and took a loss.

Dallas watched Eli Manning (306 yards, sack) and TE Evan Engram take the early lead against Dallas and Dak Prescott (405 yards, four TDs) only to see that lead get away from them as the Cowboys scored 21 points in the first half unchallenged, losing on the road 35-17. Dallas took that 21-7 lead with them to the locker room and kept the Giants in check in the second half. New York did outrush Dallas 151-75 and Sequan Barkley led all rushers with 120 yards for the Giants at AT&T Stadium. The Giants were 2 of 11 on third down (they were 1 of 3 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 27:42, while Dallas ruled the clock and held the ball for 32:18, while going 6 of 10 on third down.

Washington watched a 20-7 lead at the half last Sunday against NFC East rival Philadelphia get away from them as the Eagles proceeded to outscore the Redskins 25-7 to come away 32-27 winners at Lincoln Financial Field. Wentz threw for 313 yards and no interceptions, while the Eagles outrushed Washington 123-28, with Case Keenum throwing for 380 yards (both men threw three TDs and both were sacked once without an interception). Philadelphia went 11 of 17 on third down tries (the Eagles were 1 for 2 on fourth down) and they would ruled the clock and keep the ball for 34:27, while the Redskins kept the ball for 25:33, going 5 of 13 on third down, 2 of 2 on fourth down.

Dallas holds a 71-43-2 lead in the series, which includes games that were played in the Cotton Bowl and RFK Stadium and they have outscored Washington 2,709-2,238. The two clubs split their contests last year, each taking wins at home.

Their first meeting was in Landover in week seven and the Redskins held off a late Dallas rally to come away with the 20-17 win at FedEx Field. Washington and Dallas entered the intermission tied at 7-7 and the Redskins would take a 10-7 lead with them to the start of the fourth quarter, where both teams would play even football at that point. Prescott (273 yards, TD, four sacks) would pull the Cowboys to within three with 97 seconds left to make the contest a 3-point affair. Dallas then tried the onside kick and failed, allowing Washington to get the ball back and run out the clock. Washington outrushed Dallas 130-73, with Adrian Peterson leading the way with 99 yards, while Alex Smith threw for 178 yards and a TD without an interception (he was sacked once, Prescott was sacked four times). Washington went 3 of 12 on third down (they were 0 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 30:55, while the Cowboys, who held the ball for 29:05, went 5 of 14 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth down.

Dallas would get their revenge at AT&T Stadium in week 12 and just like the first contest, things were close but Prescott and the Cowboys prevailed by a final of 31-23. Dallas led 10-7 at the half and took a 24-13 lead with them to the fourth quarter before Washington would make things closer than Dallas would like as Dustin Hopkins made the contest an eight-point affair with 73 seconds left but Washington would get no closer. Dallas outrushed Washington 146-80 and Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 121 yards ahd a TD, while Prescott threw for 289 yards. For Washington, this time it was Colt McCoy under center, as he threw for 268 yards (McCoy was sacked three times with three interception, Prescott was sacked four times; each QB threw two TDs). In the rematch in the Lone Star State, the Cowboys were 6 of 14 on third down (Dallas was 0 of 1 on fourth down) and they would keep the ball for 33:23, while Washington held on to the football for 26:37, while going 4 of 11 on third down.

Washington was favored by 1 in the week seven contest and covered the spread, winning by 3. The 41 1/2 over/under was untouched as both clubs combined for 37 points. In the week 12 contest, the odds makers liked Dallas as a 7 1/2-point favorite and they barely covered, winning by 8. This time, both teams took care of the over/under (which was 41) by combining for 54 points. The spread? Dallas is favored by 5. The over/under? 46 1/2. Both numbers make a lot of sense. For Dallas, they want to be 2-0 in the NFC East. For Washington, they want to restore some order. Will Redskins fans be singing “Hail to the Redskins” or “Hell, it’s the Redskins?” Hail sounds better. Washington pulls off the upset at Landover and covers the 5.

Kansas City (1-0) at Oakland (1-0), 4:05 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 715. As far as rivalries go, these two teams DO NOT like each other. They’re not Facebook friends, they don’t follow each other on Twitter. They meet again. Kansas City and Oakland, two former AFL teams meet on the East side of San Francisco Bay at the Oakland Coliseum. Both teams are coming off wins in their season openers last week.

Mahomes and the Chiefs took Jacksonville to task last Sunday in the Sunshine State and the Chiefs prevailed 40-26 at TIAA Bank Field last Sunday. Leading from start to finish, Kansas City led 23-13 at the break, then proceeded to floor the gas in the final 30 minutes of play to take the win in the Sunshine State. The Chiefs outrushed Jacksonville 113-81, with Chiefs RB LeSean McCoy leading the way with 81 yards. Mahomes threw for 378 yards with three TD tosses to WR Sammy Irvin without a sack or interception, while Jaguar rookie QB Gardner Minshew threw for 275 yards with a pair of TDs but was sacked once and threw an interception. Both Kansas City and Jacksonville went 5 for 10 on third down conversions and the Chiefs ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 31:15 to Jacksonville’s 28:45.

Oakland held off a late Denver rally last Monday night at home to take a 24-16 decision at Oakland Monday night. The Silver and Black led 14-0 at the half before Denver made their first dent on the scoreboard in the third when K Brian McManus kicked a pair of 26-yard field goals in the frame. Denver would pull themselves to within eight with 2:15 when Broncos QB Joe Flacco (269 yards, three sacks) and WR Emmanuel Sanders connected on a 1-yard toss. The Broncos then tried and failed on the onside kick attempt, giving Oakland the ball back and allowing them to run out the clock. Oakland outrushed Denver 98-95 and Flacco threw for 268 yards with three sacks, while Derek Carr threw for 259 yards with a TD and no sacks (both Flacco and Carr did not throw an interception).

Including the games that were played in Dallas (when the Chiefs were known as the Texans), at Swope Field and in Los Angeles, the Chiefs lead the series 63-52-2, they have outscored the Raiders 2,496-2,253 and they have won the last three meetings, including sweeping the two contests they played last year (Oakland’s last win over the Chiefs came in 2017 in Oakland, when they were 31-30 winners).

Round one… week 13 in Oakland. Kansas City led 19-7 at the half at the Coliseum and held off the Silver and Black, coming away 40-33 winners. Kansas City outrushed Oakland 174-171 (Oakland’s Jalen Richard led all rushers with 95 yards) and Mahomes threw for 295 yards with four TDs (two of them to TE Travis Kelce, who caught 12 passes for 168 yards) and no sacks or interceptions, while Carr threw for 285 yards and three TDs (Carr was sacked three times but did not throw an interception). The Chiefs were 6 of 13 on third down but went 1 of 1 on fourth down and kept the ball for 29:14. As for the Raiders? They were 9 for 12 on third down and ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 30:46.

Kansas City made it a clean sweep of the series in week 17 at Arrowhead, holding the Raiders to a Daniel Carlson field goal late in the first half to take the 35-3 win. Tyreek Hill had a rushing TD and a TD pass from Mahomes (281 yards, two TDs, interception), even though the Raiders did outrush Kansas City 127-99 with Doug Martin leading all rushers with 100 yards in the contest and Carr threw for 185 yards but was sacked three times and picked off twice. Kansas City went 5 of 9 on third down tries in the Show-Me State (they were 1 of 3 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 26:04, while the Raiders kept the ball for 33:56, while they went 4 for 10 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down.

While Kansas City was favored by 15 in the week 13 contest, they would only win by 7 but both clubs covered the 55 1/2 over/under, tallying 73 points. In the season finale in the Show-Me State, the Chiefs were favored by 13 1/2 and they obliged the odds makers, covering the spread with their 32-point win. The 38 combined points between Kansas City and Oakland was no match for the 54 over/under in the contest. The Chiefs are favored by 7 1/2 and the over/under’s 53 1/2. They’ll meet again in week 13 in Kansas City but for now, the Raiders would like to get some revenge on their AFC West rivals. Chiefs fans need not worry. Oakland will make it interesting but the Chiefs will prevail on the road, taking the win and covering the 7 1/2.

Chicago (0-1) at Denver (0-1), 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 716. A pair of 0-1 teams meet in the Rocky Mountains as Chicago makes their way to Denver to take on the Broncos in a late afternoon contest.

Da Bears dropped their home opener last Thursday night against Green Bay at Soldier Field. After leading 3-0 at the end of the first quarter, Bears fans watched with horror as the Packers took a 7-3 lead with them to the locker room, added a 39-yard field goal by Mason Crosby, then held off a late Chicago rally to take a 10-3 win in the Windy City. The lone TD in the contest came when Aaron Rodgers and Jimmy Graham connected on an 8-yard TD toss early in the second quarter after Chicago’s Eddy Pineiro opened the scoring in the contest with a 38-yard field goal late in the first quarter. The contest was nothing to write home about as far as rushing yardage was concerned and neither team breached the 50-yard mark, let alone the 100-yard mark. Green Bay barely outrushed Chicago 47-46 and Rodgers threw for 203 yards with the only TD in the contest, while Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky threw for 228 yards with an interception (both men were sacked five times). Green Bay was a dismal 2 of 12 on third down and kept the ball for 31:03, while Chicago would keep the ball for 28:57, going 3 of 15 and 0 of 2 on third and fourth downs.

Denver seeks its first win of the season after they dropped a 24-16 decision at Oakland Monday night. The Broncos trailed 14-0 at the half and made their first dent on the scoreboard in the third when K Brian McManus kicked a pair of 26-yard field goals in the frame. Denver would pull themselves to within eight with 2:15 when Broncos QB Joe Flacco (269 yards, three sacks) and WR Emmanuel Sanders connected on a 1-yard toss. The Broncos then tried and failed on the onside kick attempt, giving Oakland the ball back and allowing them to run out the clock. Oakland outrushed Denver 98-95 and Flacco threw for 268 yards with three sacks, while Derek Carr threw for 259 yards with a TD and no sacks (both Flacco and Carr did not throw an interception).

While the Broncos lead the series 8-7, Chicago has outscored Denver 291-250 in the series. Denver has won the last two meetings, including a 17-15 win in the Windy City in 2015, while Da Bears’ last win in the series also came in Chicago, as they were 37-34 overtime winners in 2007. Chicago’s favored by 2 1/2 and the over/under’s 45 1/2. We’re not going to blame you for watching that “Bar Rescue” marathon (Jon Taffer blowing his gasket makes the show, ya think?) Chicago recovers from their loss to Green Bay at Soldier Field last week to take the win and covers the 2 1/2.

New Orleans (1-0) at Los Angeles Rams (1-0), 4:25 p.m. on FOX and 717. They met twice in the Big Easy and split the two meetings, one in the regular season, one in the post-season. New Orleans travels to the West Coast for a late afternoon contest with the defending NFC champs. Both teams were victors in their season openers last week.

New Orleans erased a 14-3 halftime lead by Houston last Monday night as the Saints opened their 2019 campaign with a 30-28 come-from-behind last-second win over the Texans Monday night in the Big Easy. After a scoreless first quarter, the Texans led by 11-point lead at the intermission thanks to a pair of TDs from DeAndre Hopkins and DeSean Watson. The Saints would go on to outscore Houston 27-14 in the last 30 minutes of action, with the game winner coming from K Wil Lutz as time expired. New Orelans set up the game winning drive, getting ball back with 37 seconds left and used a 6-play, 35-yard drive that used all of the 37 seconds remaining in regulation. Houston outrushed New Orleans 180-148 and Waston threw for 268 yards and three TDs with six sacks and an interception, while Drew Brees threw for 370 yards with a sack and an interception. Both teams did well on third down conversions in the Monday night contest (Houston was 7 of 13, the Texans were 1 of 1 on fourth down; New Orleans was 7 of 11) and New Orleans ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 30:13, while the Texans held on to the pigskin for 29:47.

The Rams led Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers 13-3 at the intermission after a scoreless first quarter, then held off a late Panthers rally as they would pull themselves to within a field goal with 1:58 left in the contest when Alex Armah scored on a one-yard run. The defending NFC champions outrushed Carolina 166-127, with Christian McCafferey leading the way with 128 yards and a pair of TDs, while the Rams were led by Todd Gurley with 97 yards. Newton threw for 239 yards with three sacks and an interception, while Jarred Goff threw for 186 yards with a TD, sack and interception. Carolina was 5 for 11 on third down tries at Bank of America Stadium and kept the ball for 26:44, while the Rams went 9 of 17 on third down (neither club had a fourth down attempt) and kept the ball for 33:16.

Los Angeles leads the lead series 41-33 (which includes contests that were played at old Tulane Stadium and in St. Louis) and the Rams have outscored New Orleans 1,685-1,552. New Orleans’ last regular season win in the series came last year in the Big Easy by a 45-35 final, while the Rams’ last win came in Los Angeles in 2017 by a final of 26-20.

They met twice during the 2018 season and both meetings took place in the Big Easy. Meeting number one in week nine. The Saints led 35-17 at the half, then went on to hold off the Rams 45-35. Brees threw for 346 yards and four TDs, while Goff threw for 391 yards and three TDs (Goff was picked off once, neither man was sacked) for the Rams. New Orleans outrushed the Rams 141-92, with Saints RB Alvina Kamara leading the way with 82 yards and a pair of TDs (Gurley ran for 68 yards with a TD for the Rams. The Rams were 3 of 8 on third down (0 of 2 on fourth down) and held the ball for 26:19, while the Saints took control of the ball for 33:41 and went 7 of 12 on third down, 2 of 2 on fourth down.

Their second meeting? The NFC Championship game in New Orleans. The Rams trailed New Orleans 13-10 at the break before they would outscore the Saints 13-10 in regulation, then took matters into their hands as they would take advantage of a Brees’ interception in overtime to win the NFC Championship Game 26-23. New Orleans led by as much as 10 early in the third quarter before the Rams would chip away at the lead and tie things up as Lutz and Rams K Greg Zuerlein traded field goals in regulation.

The contest would be remembered not just for the Brees interception in overtime but for a penalty that was never called in regulation as Saints WR Michael Thomas and Rams CB Nickell Robey-Coleman collided on a pass attempt by Brees. No penalty was called on the play, which angered Saints fans and head coach Sean Payton. The Saints had to settle for a field goal by Lutz with 1:49 left in regulation. Los Angeles then made their way down the field after the kickoff and used a 9-play, 45-yard drive that would use 1:26 of clock and Zuerlien would tie things up at 23-23. New Orleans got the ball back after that score and knelt it down to send the contest into overtime. The Saints won the toss to start the overtime and got as far as their 34-yard line before Brees was picked off by John Johnson II, stopping whatever hopes the Saints had of going to the Super Bowl.

Los Angeles then took advantage of the New Orleans turnover when they got their chance to possess the ball, using a 5-play, 15-yard drive that used only 2:12 of clock and sending Saints fans home in less than a festive mood when Zuerlein connected on a 52-yard field goal with 11:43 in the OT. Los Angeles outrushed New Orleans 77-48 and Brees threw for 249 yards with a pair of sacks and the interception that ended their Super Bowl hopes, while Goff threw for 297 yards with a TD, sack and interception. The Rams were 6 of 16 on third down tries (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 32:36 (including the overtime), while the Saints were 6 of 14 on third down tries, keeping the ball for 30:41.

New Orleans covered the 1-point spread at home, winning by 10 in the week nine contest and the 80 combined points was more than enough to cover the 60 1/2 over/under. In the NFC Championship game, the Saints were again the favorite, this time by 3 1/2. The Rams’ three-point overtime win meant that they missed the spread and the 49 points that they would combine for did not come close to the 57 1/2 over/under. The odds makers have the Rams as 2 1/2 point favorites on the West Coast with a 52 1/2 over/under. For the Rams, it’s a chance to prove that they are the NFC champs; for the Saints, it’s revenge. Rams win in Los Angeles and covers the 2 1/2.

Cleveland (0-1) at New York Jets (0-1), 8:15 p.m. Monday on ESPN. Week two ends in the Meadowlands as a pair of teams that are looking for their first win meet at Met Life Stadium as the Browns and Jets, the first teams to play a Monday night game in the history of the NFL, meet in upstate New Jersey.

Tennessee led Cleveland and Baker Mayfield 12-6 at the half at First Energy Stadium, then proceeded to outscore the Browns 31-7 in the final 30 minutes of play, coming away 43-13 winners along the shores of Lake Erie. Tennessee outrushed the Browns 123-102 and made life less than pleasant for Mayfield (285 yards), sacking him five times (once for a safety) and picking him off three times, while Mariota had his way with Cleveland, throwing for 248 yards with three TDs and no interceptions, despite being sacked four times. Neither club did anything to write home about on third down tries (Tennessee was 2 of 10, the Browns were 1 of 10; Cleveland was 0 for 2 on fourth down) but the Browns ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 30:42 to Tennessee’s 29:18.

GangGreen watched Buffalo erase a 16-3 deficit after three quarters of play (they trailed 6-0 at the half) and scored 14 fourth quarter points against Sam Darnold (175 yards, TD, four sacks) unchallenged to escape Met Life Stadium with a 17-16 win. Bills QB Josh Allen (254 yards) used his arm and legs in the final 15 minutes of action, rushing for a 1-yard score early in the fourth and then connecting with WR Josh Brown with three minutes left in regulation to take the win. Buffalo outrushed the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! 128-68, with Bills rookie RB Devin Singletary leading all rushers with 70. Buffalo was 5 of 10 on third down tries (they were 0 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 27:59, while the Jets were 32:01 in time of possession, going 7 of 17 and 1 of 2 on third and fourth downs. Darnold will miss Monday’s contest because of a bout of mononucelosis and Trevor Siemian will take his spot.

The Browns lead the series 13-12 and have outscored GangGreen 511-503. They met last year along the shores of Lake Erie and Cleveland picked up their first win in almost two years, taking a 21-17 victory (New York’s last win in the series came in 2017 by a final of 17-14 in Cleveland).

They met in week three along the shores of Lake Erie and Cleveland erased a 14-3 deficit at the break to tie things up at 14-14 going into the finel 15 minutes of play. After Browns RB Carlos Hyde scored from from a yard out and they would go for two, New York reclaimed the lead on a 28-yard field goal by Josh Myers. That lead would not last very long as Cleveland used a 15-play, 75-yard drive that took 6:52 to take the lead back for good when Hyde scored his second TD of the half. Cleveland then held off the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! to pick up their first win in almost two years. Cleveland outrushed New York 133-107 with Hyde leading all rushers with 98 yards and the two TDs, Mayfield threw for 201 yards with a sack but did not throw an interception (Darnold threw for 169 yards with a pair of sacks and a pair of interceptions). GangGreen went 6 of 15 on third down in the Thursday night week three contest (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 29:08, while Cleveland was 7 of 18 on third down and kept the ball for 30:52.

On Monday night, the Browns are 15-15 and have not played on MNF since 2015, where they played only one contest and took a loss in that, while the Jets are 22-31. They played only one game in 2018 but took a win in that affair. In the very first Monday night contest, which took place on September 21 of 1970, the Jets and Browns met at old Municipal Stadium in Cleveland, with the game being televised by ABC (Keith Jackson, Howard Cosell and Don Meridith were on the mike), the game was a sellout and Cleveland beat Joe Namath and the Jets 31-21 in that conest.

Cleveland covered the 3-point spread in the week three opener on Thursday night, winning by 4. Both clubs combined for 38 points, barely missing the 39 1/2 over/under. The Browns are favored by 3 on the road in upstate New Jersey and the over/under is 45. Both numbers are reasonable. Could history repeat? We think so. Cleveland covers the 3 and takes the Monday night win.

It’s finally here.

No more two-a-days.

No more fighting sweat, bugs, the heat and your teammates.

No more having to sleep in college dorms.

The preseason is over. Done. Kaput.

Sunday and Monday NFL football gets to see the light of day.

Thursday night started the 2019 NFL regular season as Green Bay beat Chicago in the Windy City in the season opener Thursday night, the first of 256 games that will be played between now and the Sunday after Christmas. It’s a 16-game season that lasts 17 weeks. There will be games that will be played in London, starting in week five as well as a game that will take place South of the border in week 11.

16 games. 16 chances for a player to get a weekly paycheck.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, this is also the 100th anniversary of what we now call the National Football League. There will be celebrations throughout the season and most teams will be wearing their throwback uniforms. All 32 teams will be wearing a special 100th Anniversary patch on the yoke of their jerseys (both home and away).

To help celebrate the NFL’s 100th season, each week will feature an NFL100 Game of the Week. Each game will be a nod to a momentous game played, a fierce rivalry that spans decades, a match-up of original teams and/or a game in which history was made. The NFL designated the Packers-Bears contest as the NFL100 GAME OF THE WEEK for Week 1. In arguably the league’s richest all-time rivalry, the Packers and Bears met for the 199th time, including the postseason, in a series that spans all 10 NFL decades. The franchises first met November 27, 1921, when the eventual NFL champion Chicago Staleys shut out the Packers, 20-0. Combined, the two organizations have accounted for 22 world championships,13 for Green Bay, nine for Chicago (numbers one and two respectively, all-time). The two teams have also combined to put 53 individuals in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, 28 from the Bears (No. 1 all-time) and 25 from the Packers (Number 2 all-time), with respect to those who spent the majority of their careers with a club.

Welcome to 2019. Expect new teams to earn playoff berths, a few consistent players and clubs to excel again, records to fall and young players to forge ahead as they introduce themselves to our collective excitement. It’s a familiar script, a story that has fueled the league’s popularity for 99 years. The blanks will be filled in come February. What is known this week is that every team holds fast to a dream: Super Bowl LIV in Miami and with history as an indication, every team has a legitimate shot. 31 teams want the Lombardi Trophy and New England has it. They are Golum and the Super Ring is their precious.

THE FIELD IS OPEN: In 2018, two teams – Houston (AFC South) and Chicago (NFC North) – won their divisions after finishing in last place the year before. In 15 of the past 16 seasons, at least one team finished in first place in its division the season after finishing in last or tied for last place.

Since the NFL expanded to 32 teams in 2002, two clubs have gone “worst to first” en route to a Super Bowl victory – the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles and the 2009 New Orleans Saints.

Since the NFL adopted the 12-team playoff format in 1990, at least four teams every season have qualified for the playoffs after failing to make the postseason the year before. Seven teams that missed the postseason in 2017 – Baltimore (10-6), Chicago (12-4), Dallas (10-6), Houston (11-5), Indianapolis (10-6), the Los Angeles Chargers (12-4) and Seattle (10-6) – earned a playoff berth in 2018.

MOST-EVER SUPER BOWL WINS: The New England Patriots won their sixth Lombardi Trophy last year and begin their quest to break a tie with their Kickoff Weekend opponent, the Pittsburgh Steelers, for the most-ever Super Bowl victories. The AFC stalwarts clash to open Sunday Night Football at 8:20 p.m. on NBC. By winning another title this season, New England would also join Pittsburgh as the only teams to win consecutive Super Bowls on two occasions.

RECORDS WITHIN REACH: New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees (520) needs 20 touchdown passes and New England quarterback Tom Brady (517) needs 23 to surpass Peyton Manning (539) for the most all-time. Brees (34) also needs two games of four-or-more touchdown passes to eclipse Manning (35) for the most four-touchdown games in NFL annals. Brees (9,783) needs 387 pass attempts to leap Pro Football Hall of Famer Brett Farve (10,169) for most on the all-time list. Brady will play his 20th season with the Patriots, tying two Pro Football Hall of Famers, Washington’s Darrell Green and the Rams’ Jackie Slater, for the second-most seasons with one franchise in NFL history. Detroit’s Jason Hanson (21) owns the league record. Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald can become the first player in league history to earn three consecutive AP Defensive Player of the Year honors. With a third overall, Donald would tie J.J. Watt (2012, 2014-15) and Pro Football Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor (1981-82, 1986) for most all-time. Buffalo Bills running back Frank Gore (14,748) needs 522 rushing yards to surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer Barry Sanders (15,269) for third on the all-time list. Gore (18,544) also needs 611 yards from scrimmage to surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk (19,154) for fourth on the all-time list. Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (1,303) needs 23 receptions to surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez (1,325) for second on the NFL’s all-time list. Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerry Rice (1,549) holds the career record. Fitzgerald (9) also needs 1,000 receiving yards to tie Pro Football Hall of Famer Randy Moss (10) for second on the NFL’s all-time list of most 1,000-yard seasons. Rice (14) holds the career record.

SUCCESS WITH FIRST-YEAR LEADERS: Seven teams enter this season with a new head coach, Kliff Kingsbury in Arizona, Zac Taylor in Cincinnati, Freddie Kitchens in Cleveland, Vic Fangio in Denver, Matt LaFleur in Green Bay, Brian Flores in Miami, Adam GASE with the New York Jets and Bruce Arians in Tampa Bay. Four rookie head coaches have led their teams to the playoffs over the last two seasons: Matt Nagy (Chicago) and Frank Reich (Indianapolis) in 2018 and Sean McVay (Los Angeles Rams) and Sean McDermott (Buffalo) in 2017. Kingsbury, Kitchens, Fangio, LaFleur and Flores are all first-time head coaches in 2019.

FAMILIAR FACES IN NEW PLACES: Several notable players were on the move during the off-season and preseason, including quarterbacks Joe Flacco (Denver) and Nick Foles (Jacksonville); running backs Le’Veon Bell (New York Jets), Mark Ingram (Baltimore), Frank Gore (Buffalo) and LeSean McCoy (Kansas City); wide receivers Odell Beckham, Jr. (Cleveland), Antonio Brown (Oakland) and DeSean Jackson (Philadelphia) and Kenny Stills (Houston); tight end Jared Cook (New Orleans); tackles Trent Brown (Oakland) and Laremy Tunsil (Houston); guard Rodger Saffold (Tennessee); center Mitch Morse (Buffalo); defensive ends Ezekiel Ansah (Seattle), Frank Clark (Kansas City), Jadaveon Clowney (Seattle), Trey Flowers (Detroit) and Cameron Wake (Tennessee); defensive tackles Malik Jackson (Philadelphia) and Gerald McCoy (Carolina); linebackers Kiko Alonso (New Orleans), Dee Ford (San Francisco), Clay Matthews (Los Angeles Rams), C.J. Mosley (New York Jets) and Terrell Suggs (Arizona); cornerbacks Robert Alford (Arizona), Bradley Roby (Houston) and Steven Nelson (Pittsburgh) and safeties Landon Collins (Washington); Tyrann Mathieu (Kansas City), Earl Thomas (Baltimore) and Eric Weddle (Los Angeles Rams).

YOUNG STARS TAKE THE STAGE: Youth is being served. Last season, seven rookies – New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley, Seattle punter Michael Dickson, Los Angeles Chargers safety Derwin James, Denver running back Phillip Lindsay, Indianapolis guard Quenton Nelson, Dallas linebacker Leighton Vander Esch and Cleveland cornerback Denzel Ward – earned Pro Bowl honors.

Last year, 39 players age 25 or younger as of December 31, 2018, were selected to the Pro Bowl. And 16 of those 39 were voted AP All-Pro, including New York Jets safety Jamal Adams, Chicago kick-returner Tarik Cohen, Cleveland defensive end Myles Garrett, Minnesota defensive end Danielle Hunter, New York Giants kicker Aldrick Rosas and the reigning MVP, Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

Three quarterbacks – Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray (Number 1 overall, Arizona), Duke’s Daniel Jones (Number 6, New York Giants) and Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins (Number 15, Washington) – were selected in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. At least one rookie quarterback has started a Kickoff Weekend contest in 11 consecutive seasons, the longest streak in the NFL since at least 1950.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN WEEK 1

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 53 Super Bowl winners have a 43-9-1 record in the Kickoff Weekend games of their title seasons. The Super Bowl LIII champion New England Patriots, who host Pittsburgh in their season-opener on Sunday Night Football at 8:20 p.m. on NBC, have won nine of their past 10 home openers played on Kickoff Weekend, the most in the NFL over that span.

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 602 teams that won openers…311 went to the playoffs (189 won division titles) and of the 601 teams that lost openers…147 went to the playoffs (85 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 1999-2001, which creates an odd number for the total number of results.

In 2018, three of the four participants in the conference championships – Kansas City, the Los Angeles Rams and New England – were victorious on Kickoff Weekend, including both Super Bowl teams.

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

Chicago hosted Green Bay Thursday Night Football to kick off the NFL’s 100th season. Green Bay’s 56 Kickoff Weekend wins are the most all-time and Chicago’s 54 wins rank second. The Packers have won their past four Kickoff Weekend games, the longest active streak in the NFC.

Denver, who will begin the season by visiting AFC West rival Oakland on Monday Night Football at 10:20 p.m. on ESPN, have posted a .672 winning percentage (39-19-1) on Kickoff Weekend, the top mark in the league. Denver has won its past seven Kickoff Weekend games, the longest active streak in the NFL.

The defending AFC West champion Kansas City Chiefs visit Jacksonville in Week 1 at 1 p.m. on CBS. The Chiefs have won their last four Kickoff Weekend games, tied for the league’s second-longest active streak.

The defending NFC East champion Dallas Cowboys host Eli Manning and the New York Giants in an NFC East showdown at 4:25 p.m. on FOX. Dallas and New York face each other on Kickoff Weekend for the fourth time in the last five years. With a winning percentage of .655 (38-20-1), the Cowboys own the best Kickoff Weekend winning percentage in the NFC.

The Seattle Seahawks, who returned to the playoffs in 2018, host the Cincinnati Bengals at 4:05 p.m. on CBS. Seattle has won 10 consecutive home openers, the longest active streak in the league.

The Washington Redskins make their way up I-95 to face the Philadelphia Eagles in the City of Brotherly Love to start the season at 1 p.m. on FOX. Washington has won its past three road openers, the longest active streak in the league.

*From 1920-71, tie games were not included in winning percentage

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

New England quarterback Tom Brady has 34 touchdown passes in 16 career Week 1 games and needs one touchdown pass against Pittsburgh Sunday night to surpass Peyton Manning (34) for the second-most touchdown passes in season-opening games in NFL history. New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees leads all players with 37 touchdown passes in 17 career Kickoff Weekend games, as New Orleans hosts Houston on Monday Night Football at 7:10 p.m. on ESPN.

Brees, who led all players with 439 passing yards on Kickoff Weekend in 2018, has three career 400-yard passing games in season-opening games, the most by any player in NFL history. Los Angeles Chargers quarterback PHILIP RIVERS, who passed for 424 yards in Week 1 last season, and Manning are the only other players with multiple 400-yard passing games on Kickoff Weekend.

Washington running back Adrian Peterson has 999 rushing yards in 12 career season-opening games and needs 1 rushing yard on Sunday against Philadelphia to become the fifth player with at least 1,000 rushing yards in season-opening games, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers Emmitt Smith (1,247), Walter Payton (1,067) and Jim Brown (1,043), as well as Edgerrin James (1,062).

Peterson also enters the season with nine career rushing touchdowns on Kickoff Weekend and needs one more to join Pro Football Hall of Famer Marcus Allen (12), Chuck Muncie (11) and Priest Holmes (10) as the only players in NFL history with at least 10 rushing touchdowns in season-opening games.

Philadelphia wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who had 147 receiving yards on Kickoff Weekend in 2018 with Tampa Bay, has five career games with at least 100 yards receiving in Week 1, tied for the second-most all-time. With at least 100 receiving yards against Washington on Sunday, Jackson would tie Pro Football Hall of Famer Michael Irvin (six) for the most 100-yard receiving games on Kickoff Weekend in NFL history.

START ’EM EARLY: Arizona rookie quarterback Kyler Murray, the number 1 overall selection in the 2019 NFL Draft, is expected to make his first career start against Detroit on Sunday in the desert at 4:25 p.m. on FOX. With a start by Murray, at least one rookie quarterback will have started in Week 1 in 12 consecutive seasons, the longest streak in the NFL since at least 1950.

The rookie quarterbacks to start in Week 1 since 2008:

QUARTERBACK, TEAM (STARTING RECORD AS ROOKIE, SEASON)
Joe Flacco, Baltimore (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 (0-15, 2018)
Sam Darnold, New York Jets (4-9, 2019)
Kyler Murray, Arizona (– 2019)*^

*No. 1 overall pick
^Expected to start Week 1

WONDERFUL WILSON: Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson has 196 career passing touchdowns and 25,624 career passing yards in 112 career games during his eight-year NFL career.

With four passing touchdowns on Sunday at home in the Pacific Northwest against Cincinnati, Wilson can surpass Tom Brady (116 games) to become the fifth-fastest player in league history to reach 200 career passing touchdowns.

The players to reach 200 career passing touchdowns in the fewest games in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAM(S) (GAMES TO REACH 200 PASSING TOUCHDOWNS)
Dan Marino – Miami (89)(HOF)
Aaron Rodgers – Green Bay (99)
Peyton Manning – Indianapolis (106)
Brett Favre – Atlanta and Green Bay (107)(HOF)
Tom Brady – New England (116)
Russell Wilson – Seattle (112)*
*Has 196 career touchdown passes

With four touchdown passes, Wilson would also become the first player in league history with at least 200 passing touchdowns and 15 rushing touchdowns (16) in his first eight seasons.

MOVING ON UP: Washington running back Adrian Peterson enters 2019 with 106 career rushing touchdowns during his 12-year NFL career.

With a rushing touchdown on Sunday at Philadelphia, Peterson can surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer JIM BROWN (106 rushing touchdowns) for the fifth-most rushing touchdowns in league annals.

The players with the most rushing touchdowns in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAM(S)(RUSHING TOUCHDOWNS)
Emmitt Smith – Dallas and Arizona (164)(HOF)
LaDainian Tomlinson – San Diego and New York Jets (145)(HOF)
Marcus Allen – Los Angeles Raiders and Kansas City (123)(HOF)
Walter Payton – Chicago (110) (HOF)
Jim Brown – Cleveland (106)(HOF)
Adrian Peterson – Minnesota, Arizona and Washington (106)*
*Active

RINGING THE BELL: Running back Le’Veon Bell makes his New York Jets debut on Sunday against Buffalo.

Bell, who has 7,996 career scrimmage yards in 62 games, need four scrimmage yards to become the fastest player to reach 8,000 career scrimmage yards in league history.

The players to reach 8,000 career scrimmage yards in the fewest games in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAM(S) (GAMES TO REACH 8,000 SCRIMMAGE YARDS)
Eric Dickerson – Los Angeles Rams (64)(HOF)
Edgerrin James – Indianapolis (65)
LaDainian Tomlinson – San Diego (65)(HOF)
Jim Brown – Cleveland (67)(HOF)
Marcus Allen – Los Angeles Raiders (68)(HOF)
Le’Veon Bell – Pittsburgh and New York Jets (62)*
*Has 7,996 scrimmage yards

DUAL THREAT: New England running back James White enters his sixth NFL season with 19 career receiving touchdowns.

With a receiving touchdown against Pittsburgh Sunday night, White can join Chuck Foreman (23 receiving touchdowns) and Brian Westbrook (23) as the only running backs in league history with at least 20 touchdown receptions in their first six seasons.

The running backs with at least 20 receiving touchdowns in their first six seasons:

PLAYER – TEAM (RECEIVING TDs)
Chuck Foreman – Minnesota (23)
Brian Westbrook – Philadelphia (23)
James White – New England (19)*
*Entering sixth season

700 CLUB: Atlanta wide receiver Julio Jones has 698 receptions for 10,731 yards and 51 touchdowns in 111 career games.

Jones needs two receptions on Sunday at Minnesota to become the second-fastest player to reach 700 receptions in NFL history.

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

PLAYER – TEAM(S) (GAMES TO REACH 700 RECEPTIONS)
Antonio Brown – Pittsburgh (111)
Marvin Harrison – Indianapolis (114)(HOF)
Andre Johnson – Houston (120)
Brandon Marshall – Denver, Miami and Chicago (121)
Anquan Boldin – Arizona and Baltimore (123)
Julio Jones – ATLANTA (111)*
*Has 698 receptions

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN 2019: The Carolina Panthers (199-201-1) need one win for 200 as a franchise, including postseason.

The Denver Broncos (499-433-10, .535) need one win for 500 in franchise history, including postseason. Among the original eight AFL franchises that launched in 1960, only the Boston/New England Patriots have reached that milestone.

The Indianapolis Colts need six regular-season wins to reach 300 since moving to Indianapolis in 1984. Since changing their home address from Baltimore to the Hooiser State, the Colts are 294-265-0 (.526) in regular season contests. Since selecting Peyton Manning in the 1998 NFL Draft, they’re 206-130-0 (.613), with 15 playoff berths in 21 seasons.

The Minnesota Vikings need two wins to reach 500, including postseason. The Vikings enter 2019 with a 498-426-11 (.539) all-time record.

The New England Patriots need one Super Bowl victory to break a tie with Pittsburgh (six) for most ever.

The Patriots also need:

One Super Bowl victory to join Pittsburgh as the only NFL teams to win consecutive Super Bowls on two occasions. Pittsburgh did it following the 1974-75 and 1978-79 seasons and New England did it after the 2003-04 seasons.

One Super Bowl appearance to join Buffalo as one of only two clubs to ever play in four straight. The Bills reached the Super Bowl to punctuate each of the 1990-93 seasons.

One berth in a conference championship game to tie Pittsburgh’s NFL record, 16. New England enters 2019 tied with San Francisco for second all-time, with 15.

One postseason victory to extend their NFL record, 37. Pittsburgh enters 2019 with 36, second all-time.

One number one seed to match San Francisco and Denver (eight each) for most since playoff seeding began in 1975. New England enters 2019 third with seven such seasons.

Two home playoff wins to match their own 11-game streak from 1996-2008, the second longest in league annals. The Patriots enter 2019 having won nine consecutive postseason tilts in Foxboro. Green Bay (1939-2001) owns the league record, 13.

Three postseason games to become just the third team to reach 60. Entering 2019, only Dallas (63) and Pittsburgh (61) have reached the milestone. The Patriots have 57.

Ten wins to reach 17 consecutive seasons with 10 victories and break a tie with San Francisco (16 from 1983-98) for the longest streak in league history. The Patriots have won at least 10 games every year since going 9-7 in 2002.

Twelve wins to reach 13 overall seasons with 12 victories and match the number achieved by San Francisco, most in the NFL since the 1970 merger. The Patriots enter 2019 tied with Dallas (12) for second over that span.

Three wins to reach 116 since the start of 2010 and break the Indianapolis Colts’ NFL record for victories in a decade (115, 2000-09) and nine victories to reach 34 winning seasons. Since 1970, only Pittsburgh (36) and Dallas (33) have achieved as many winning seasons.

The Oakland Raiders (491-442-11, .526) need nine wins for 500 in franchise history, including postseason.

The Pittsburgh Steelers need two wins to give Mike Tomlin and Ben Roethlisberger the third most by a head
coach/quarterback combination in history. The duo enters 2019 with 115 regular-season victories, one behind number 3 Don
Shula/Dan Marino (116), number 1 Bill Belichick/Tom Brady (207) and number 2 Sean Payton/Drew Brees (118) also enter 2019 looking to add to their totals.

Michael Badgley (Los Angeles Chargers) could establish the best field-goal percentage by a player over his first two NFL seasons, with a minimum 25 attempts. Badgley (.938) made 15 of 16 field-goal attempts as a 2018 rookie. Baltimore’s Justin Tucker (.919, 68-for-74 from 2012-13) holds the record.

Saquon Barkley (New York Giants) needs 1,972 scrimmage yards to become the third ever to record 4,000 in his first two seasons, joining Eric Dickerson (4,456, 1983-84) and Edgerrin James (4,442, 1999-2000). Barkley enters 2019 with 2,028.

Odell Beckham, Jr. (Cleveland) needs 1,000 receiving yards to tie for the second-most 1,000-yard seasons (five) over his first six years. Lance Alworth (1963-67), Marques Colston (2006-11), Mike Evans (2014-18), A.J. Green (2011-15), Torry Holt (2000-04), Chad Johnson (2002-06), Brandon Marshall (2007-11) and Jerry Rice (1986-90) also did it. Randy Moss (1998-2003) is the only player ever to record 1,000 yards in each of his first six seasons. Beckham had four-figure seasons in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018. Beckham also needs 100 receiving yards in his Browns debut to surpass Julio Jones for second-most receiving yards over his first 60 games. Jones compiled 5,575 from 2011-15. Beckham enters 2019 with 5,476 over his first 59 contests. Lance Alworth (5,907) holds the 60-game record.

Beckham needs three receptions in each of his first two games to surpass Cris Carter’s streak of games with three-plus catches. Carter, who owns the third-longest streak in NFL history, had three catches in 58 straight from December 12, 1993, to October 5, 1997 – all with Minnesota. Reggie Wayne (82, 2009-14) and Antonio Brown (76, 2013-17) are first and second, respectively, on the all-time list. Beckham enters 2019 with a 57-game streak, from October 19, 2014, to December 2, 2018.

Bill Belichick (New England) needs a Super Bowl win to join George Halas and Curly Lambeau as the only NFL coaches with six league championships. Belichick also needs One Super Bowl win to capture consecutive league titles for the second time (2003-04) and become just the third coach in history to accomplish that, joining Chuck Noll (1974-75, 1978-79) and Vince Lombardi (1961-62, 1965-67) and eight wins to reach 300 career (regular and postseason) and become just the third coach to achieve that mark, joining Don Shula (347) and George Halas (324). Belichick enters 2019 number 3 on the all-time list with 292.

Le’Veon Bell (New York Jets) needs 2,004 scrimmage yards to reach 10,000 career. He enters 2019 with 7,996 in 62 career games. Bell also needs 340 yards receiving to reach 3,000. He enters 2019 with 2,660 in 62 career games and eight touchdowns to reach 50. He enters 2019 with 42 in 62 career games.

Tom Brady (New England) will play his 20th season with the Patriots, tying Washington’s Darrell Green and the Rams’ Jackie Slater for the second-most seasons with one franchise in NFL history. Detroit’s Jason Hanson (21) owns the league record. Brady also needs: 23 touchdown passes to eclipse No. 1 Peyton Manning (539). Number 2 Drew Brees enters 2019 with 520. Brady enters 2019 number 3 on the all-time list with 517, 35 touchdown passes to reach five such seasons and surpass Peyton Manning (four) for most in NFL history. Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers also enter 2019 with four 35-TD seasons and to lead the NFL in touchdown passes to establish an NFL record. Brady enters 2019 having led the league in the category on four occasions, tied with Drew Brees, Len Dawson, Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, Johnny Unitas and Steve Young for most in history, one Pro Bowl invitation to become a 15-time Pro Bowler and surpass four players – all Hall of Famers – for most in history: Tony Gonzalez (14), Peyton Manning (14), Bruce Matthews (14) and Merlin Olsen (14), 1,325 passing yards to surpass number 3 Brett Favre (71,838) and 1,427 to surpass number 2 Peyton Manning (71,940). Drew Brees (74,437) enters 2019 at number 1. Brady (70,514) enters 2019 at number 4.

Drew Brees (New Orleans) needs 20 touchdown passes to surpass number 1 Peyton Manning (539) on the all-time list. Brees enters 2019 with 520, second in NFL history. Brees also needs to throw four touchdowns in two games to eclipse Manning (35) for most four-TD games in NFL annals. Brees (34) enters 2019 number 2 all-time, needing 387 pass attempts to eclipse number 1 Brett Favre (10,169) on the all-time list. Brees enters 2019 number 2 all-time with 9,783, 414 completions to become the first in NFL history to reach 7,000. Brees enters 2019 number 1 with 6,586 and needs 563 passing yards to become the first in NFL history to reach 75,000. Brees enters 2019 number 1 with 74,437.

Antonio Brown (Oakland) needs 1,000 yards receiving to reach that figure in eight career seasons. Over their first 10 years in the league, only Jerry Rice (nine from 1985-94), Randy Moss (eight from 1998-2007), Torry Holt (eight from 2000-07) and Brandon Marshall (eight from 2007-15) have compiled eight 1,000-yard seasons. Brown enters 2019 with seven 1,000-yard campaigns over his first nine years. Brown also needs 104 receptions to surpass number 20 Art Monk (940) on the NFL’s all-time list. Brown enters 2019 with 837 career catches, 28th in league history.

Brown needs 100 receptions to capture sole possession of the NFL record with a seventh 100-catch season. Brown enters 2019 with six such seasons, tied with Brandon Marshall (2007-09, 2012-13 and 2015), 91 receptions to break Marvin Harrison’s NFL record (927, 1996-2005) for most receptions over a player’s first 10 seasons. Brown enters 2019 with 837.

Brown needs 1,200 yards receiving to reach that mark in a seventh consecutive season. Only Jerry Rice (nine from 1988-96), Randy Moss (six from 1998-2003), Torry Holt (six from 2000-05) and Brown (six from 2013-18) have authored streaks of at least six 1,200-yard seasons.

Brown needs 1,500 yards receiving to match Jerry Rice’s NFL record for 1,500-yard seasons, four. Brown enters 2019 with three 1,500-yard seasons and 793 receiving yards for 12,000. Brown would become just the fifth player in NFL history to break that barrier in his first 10 seasons.

Derek Carr (Oakland) needs 370 completions to surpass Peyton Manning (2,128) for most in his first six seasons. Carr enters 2019 with the most completions (1,759) ever over a player’s first five campaigns. Carr also needs 300 completions to join Peyton Manning as the only passers to reach that mark in each of their first six NFL seasons and 3,000 passing yards to join Andy Dalton, Peyton Manning, Cam Newton and Russell Wilson as the only players to reach that mark in their first six seasons. Carr also needs 20 touchdown passes to join Andrew Luck, Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Dan Marino, Matt Ryan and Russell Wilson as the only quarterbacks ever to reach that mark in five of their first six seasons.

Pete Carroll (Seattle) needs two wins to reach 100 and become just the fifth active head coach to achieve that mark with his current club. He would join Bill Belichick (255), Mike Tomlin (133), Sean Payton (126) and John Harbaugh (114). Carroll enters 2019 98-60-1 as Seattle’s head coach, including postseason. Overall as an NFL head coach, he’s 132-93-1.

John Denny (Miami) enters 2019 with a franchise-record 224 consecutive games played, the league’s longest active streak.

Aaron Donald (Los Angeles Rams) could become the first player in history to earn three consecutive AP Defensive Player of the Year honors. Donald enters 2019 having captured the last two awards (2017-18) and with a third overall would tie J.J. Watt (2012, 2014-15) and Lawrence Taylor (1981-82, 1986) for most alltime.

Julian Edelman (New England) needs one 100-yard receiving game in the postseason to break a tie with number 2 Michael Irvin (six). Jerry Rice (eight) owns the NFL record. Edelman enters 2019 with six.

Mike Evans (Tampa Bay) needs 1,000 receiving yards to join Randy Moss (1998-2003) as one of two players ever to reach 1,000 in each of their first six NFL seasons. Evans also needs 965 receiving yards to surpass No. 10 Larry Fitzgerald (7,067 from 2004-09) on the NFL’s list of most receiving yards over a player’s first six seasons since 1970. Evans enters 2019 with 6,103 yards in five seasons.

Larry Fitzgerald (Arizona) needs 23 receptions to surpass Tony Gonzalez (1,325) for second on the NFL’s all-time list. Jerry Rice (1,549) holds the career record. Fitzgerald enters 2019 number 3 with 1,303. Fitzgerald also needs 1,000 receiving yards to tie number 2 Randy Moss (10) on the NFL’s all-time list of most 1,000-yard seasons. Jerry Rice holds the career record with 14. Fitzgerald (nine) enters 2019 tied for number 3 with Tim Brown and Terrell Owens.

Melvin Gordon (Los Angeles Chargers) needs 1,300 yards from scrimmage and 12 touchdowns to extend his streak of seasons with those numbers to four. That would tie Marshawn Lynch (2011-14) and Thurman Thomas (1989-92) for the third-longest streak in NFL history. Gordon also needs 1,200 yards from scrimmage and 10 touchdowns to extend his league-leading streak of seasons with those numbers to four.

Frank Gore (Buffalo) needs 522 rushing yards to surpass number 3 Barry Sanders (15,269) on the all-time list. Gore enters 2019 at number 4 with 14,748.

Stephen Gostkowski (New England) New England, needs to lead the league in scoring to break a tie with Don Hutson (five) and Gino Cappelletti (five, AFL) for most seasons with that distinction. Gostkowski has paced the NFL five times: 2008, 2012-15.

DeAndre Hopkins (Houston) needs 100 catches, 1,500 receiving yards and 11 TD receptions to join Marvin Harrison (1999, 2001-02) as the only players ever to reach those benchmarks in three NFL seasons. Hopkins eclipsed those three standards in 2015 and 2018.

Desmond King (Los Angeles Chargers) needs to return one interception for a touchdown to become the ninth player in NFL history with a pick-six in each of his first three seasons and the first since Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie did so from 2008-10.

Jarvis Landry (Cleveland) needs 48 receptions to establish the NFL record for catches over a player’s first six seasons, breaking the mark held by DeAndre Hopkins (528, 2013-18). Landry enters 2019 with 481 receptions over his first five years,
2014-18.

Zack Martin (Dallas) needs a Pro Bowl selection to become one of five offensive linemen ever to secure a Pro Bowl invitation in his first six seasons, joining Lou Creekmur (eight from 1950-57 with Detroit), Jon Morris (seven from 1964-70 with Boston Patriots), Joe Thomas (10 from 2007-16 with Cleveland) and Richmond Webb (seven from 1990-96 with Miami). Martin enters 2019 on a five-year streak (2014-18).

Baker Mayfield (Cleveland) needs a touchdown pass in each of his first 11 starts to break Kurt Warner’s NFL-record string of career-opening starts with a TD pass. The Pro Football Hall of Famer established the mark over his first 23 NFL starts, from 1999-2000. Mayfield enters 2019 with a 13-start streak. Mayfield also needs 23 passing touchdowns to become the seventh ever to reach 50 in his first two seasons. He needs 26 to surpass number 2 David Carr (52, 2015-16) and 42 to surpass No. 1 Dan Marino (68, 1983-84) for most ever over a player’s initial two years. Mayfield threw for 27 as a 2018 rookie.

Christian McCaffery (Carolina) needs 52 receptions to surpass LaDainian Tomlinson (238 from 2001-03) for the most catches by a running back over his first three seasons. McCaffrey enters 2019 with 187 receptions over his first two campaigns.

LeSean McCoy (Buffalo) needs 1,090 rushing yards to surpass Jamal Lewis (10,607), Ricky Watters (10,643), Warrick Dunn (10,967), O.J. Simpson (11,236), Corey Dillon (11,241), John Riggins (11,352), Steven Jackson (11,438) and Fred Taylor (11,695) on the league’s all-time list and move from 25th to 17th. McCoy enters 2019 with 10,606.

Von Miller (Denver) needs two sacks for 100 career. Miller opens the season with 98, while Cameron Wake (98) and J.J. Watt (92) also are approaching 100. Terrell Suggs (132.5) leads all active players.

Cam Newton (Carolina) needs 121 rushing yards to surpass No. 2 Randall Cunningham (4,928) on the league’s career list of rushing yards by a quarterback. Newton enters 2019 with 4,808. Michael Vick (6,109) holds the NFL record.

Bill O’Brien (Houston) needs nine wins to join Andy Reid, Mike Tomlin and John Harbaugh as the only active head coaches with five winning seasons over their first six years at the reins of an NFL club. O’Brien has guided the Texans to three AFC South titles in his first five years.

Adrian Peterson (Washington) needs 345 yards rushing to surpass number 7 Jerome Bettis. He also needs 367 to surpass number 6 LaDainian Tomlinson (13,684) and 784 to surpass number Curtis Martin (14,101). Peterson enters 2019 with 13,318, eighth alltime. Peterson also needs one rushing touchdown to surpass number 5 Jim Brown (106) on the all-time list and five to surpass number 4 Walter Payton (110).

Peterson enters 2019 tied with Brown at 106, one game of 200 yards rushing to reach seven career and break O.J. Simpson’s NFL record (six). Peterson enters 2019 with six 200-yard games, tied with Simpson and needs four 100-yard rushing games to surpass number 7 Edgerrin James (57) on the NFL’s all-time list and five to surpass number 6 Jim Brown (58). Peterson enters 2019 at number 8 with 54 100-yard rushing games.

Dak Prescott (Dallas) needs eight victories to become only the sixth quarterback in NFL history to win 40 regular-season games in his first four seasons. Russell Wilson (46), Joe Flacco (44), Matt Ryan (43), Dan Marino (41) and Andy Dalton (40) are the others. Prescott enters 2019 with 32. Prescott also needs five rushing touchdowns to surpass Daunte Culpepper (22) for second-most ever by a quarterback. Cam Newton (33, 2011-14) holds the record. Prescott enters 2019 with 18 and also can eclipse the four-season marks set by Steve Grogan (21), Johnny Lujack (21) and Frankie Albert (20).

Damarious Randall (Cleveland) needs three interceptions to become the first NFL player in 22 years with three INTs in each of his first five seasons. Tom Carter compiled his five-season streak by picking off 21 passes from 1993-97 with Washington and Chicago. Randall enters 2019 having collected 14 interceptions with Green Bay and Cleveland since 2015.

Philip Rivers (Los Angeles Chargers) needs 251 pass attempts to surpass number 7 John Elway (7,250) on the all-time list. Rivers enters 2019 with 7,000 career attempts. Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger (7,168) enters 2019 number 8 on the list. Rivers also needs 344 passing yards to become the eighth in NFL history to reach 55,000. Rivers enters 2019 with 54,656 and needs 26 touchdown passes to become the sixth in NFL history with 400. Rivers enters 2019 with 374, 47 shy of surpassing number 5 Dan Marino (420) on the all-time list, two 300-yard passing games to surpass No. 4 Marino (63). Rivers enters 2019 with 62. Drew Brees (115), Peyton Manning (93) and Tom Brady (87) rank 1-3 on the list entering 2019 and to throw at least three touchdowns in four games to reach 60 three-TD contests. Only six players have thrown for three touchdowns in that many games. Rivers enters 2019 with 56 such efforts.

Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh) needs four wins to surpass number 6 Dan Marino (147) and five to surpass number 5 John Elway (148) on the all-time list of regular-season victories by a starting quarterback. number 1 Tom Brady (207), number 2 Brett Favre and Peyton Manning (186) and number 4 Drew Brees (155) lead the category entering the year. Roethlisberger begins 2019 with 144 wins as a starting quarterback.

Matt Ryan (Atlanta) needs 3,280 passing yards to become the 10th player ever to reach 50,000. Drew Brees reached 50,000 faster than any player, in his 183rd game. Peyton Manning (191) was second-fastest. Ryan enters 2019 with 46,720 in 174 games.

Matthew Slater (New England) needs one Pro Bowl invitation as a special-teams player to reach eight and break a tie with Steve Tasker (seven, 1987-1990-95) for most in NFL annals. Slater enters 2019 having earned seven Pro Bowl honors (2011-17).

Matthew Stafford (Detroit) needs 1,474 passing yards to reach 40,000. He needs to accomplish that feat within his first nine games to become fastest in NFL history to reach that mark. Matt Ryan holds the record (151 games). Stafford enters 2019 with 38,526 yards in 141 games. Stafford also needs to throw for 3,500 yards and 20 touchdowns to become just the seventh in NFL history to reach those numbers in nine consecutive seasons, joining Drew Brees (14, 2005-present), Peyton Manning (13, 1998-2010), Philip Rivers (11, 2008-present), Tom Brady (10, 2009-present), Brett Favre (nine, 1994-2002) and Matt Ryan (nine, 2010-present).

Aqib Talib (Los Angeles Rams) needs one interception-return touchdown to tie No. 2 Darren Sharper and Charles Woodson (11) and two to tie number 1 Rod Woodson (12) on the all-time list. Talib enters 2019 at number 4 with 10 career.

Michael Thomas (New Orleans) needs 90 receptions to become the only NFL player ever to reach 90 in each of his first four seasons. To date, Thomas (2016-18) and Odell Beckham Jr. (2014-16) are the only players ever to catch 90 passes in each of their first three NFL seasons. Thomas also needs 80 catches to break the NFL record held by Jarvis Landry (400) for most receptions by a player in his first four seasons. Thomas enters 2019 with 321 receptions.

Justin Tucker Baltimore) needs 30 field goals to reach seven seasons with 30 or more and extend his NFL record. He enters 2019 with six such seasons, ahead of David Akers, John Carney, Stephen Gostkowski and Robbie Gould (each with five).

Adam Vinatieri (Indianapolis) already the NFL’s all-time leader in field goals made (582), needs 18 more to become the first NFL player to reach 600 career. Vinatieri also needs: 20 field-goal attempts to surpass Morten Andersen (709) for most all-time. He enters 2019 No. 2 on the all-time list, with 690 career attempts. Vinatieri needs one game to surpass Gary Anderson (353) for the second-most games played in NFL history. He enters 2019 tied with Anderson at number 2, with 353. Morten Andersen (382) holds the NFL record.

Cameron Wake (Tennessee) needs two sacks for 100 career. Wake opens the season with 98, while Von Miller (98) and J.J. Watt (92) also are approaching 100. Terrell Suggs (132.5) leads all active players.

J.J. Watt (Houston) could earn a fourth AP Defensive Player of the Year Award. No other player has won more than three. He enters 2019 with three, tied with Lawrence Taylor (1981-82, 1986) for most all-time. Watt also needs eight sacks for 100 career. Entering 2019, only 32 players have reached the milestone. Watt opens the season with 92, while Von Miller and Cameron Wake (each with 98) also are approaching 100. Terrell Suggs (132.5) leads all active players, and needs 15 sacks to tie Reggie White’s NFL record of five 15-sack seasons. Watt hit that plateau in 2012 (20.5), 2014 (20.5), 2015 (17.5) and 2018 (16).

Jameis Winston (Tampa Bay), on the NFL’s list of most passing yards over a player’s first five seasons, needs 3,381 passing yards to eclipse No. 10 Andy Dalton (18,008). Winston enters 2019 with 14,628 passing yards. Winston also needs 22 passing touchdowns to surpass number 10 Matthew Stafford and Johnny Unitas (109) on the NFL’s list of most passing touchdowns over a player’s first five seasons. Winston enters 2019 with 88.

Many NFL owners will be celebrating notable milestones in 2019, including Chicago’s McCaskey Family, who has owned the team since its inception in 1920 and will be enjoying the Bears’ 100th season alongside the league. Dallas’ Jerry Jones will be celebrating his 30th anniversary as an NFL owner, while New England’s Robert Kraft and Philadelphia’s Jefferey Lurie – the recipients of the past two Lombardi Trophies – will each be celebrating their 25th.

PLAYING RULE CHANGES FOR THE 2019 SEASON:

• REVIEWABLE PLAYS EXPANDED: For one year only, reviewable plays in Instant Replay will be expanded to include pass interference, called or not called on the field. Also expands automatic replay reviews to include scoring plays and turnovers negated by a foul and any Try attempt (extra point or two-point conversion).

• KICKOFF FORMATION: Makes permanent the kickoff rule changes that were implemented in 2018, which modified rules for a free kick formation and for blocking on a free kick.

• DOUBLE FOULS: Changes the enforcement of double fouls when there is a change of possession.

• EXPANDED PROTECTION OF DEFENSELESS PLAYER: It is now a foul if a player initiates a block when his path is toward or parallel to his own end line and makes forcible contact to his opponent with his helmet, forearm or shoulder. This is also referred to as a blindside block.

• SCRIMMAGE KICK: Simplifies the scrimmage-kick rules. If there is a missed field-goal attempt and the ball has not been touched by the receivers beyond the line of scrimmage in the field of play or in the end zone before the ball has touched the ground in the end zone, the following shall apply:

(a) If the spot of the kick was inside the receivers’ 20-yard line, it is the receivers’ ball at the 20-yard line; or
(b) If the spot of the kick was from the receivers’ 20-yard line or beyond the receivers’ 20-yard line, it is the receivers’ ball at the spot of the kick.

• FOULS DURING A SCORE: Teams can now elect to enforce an opponent’s personal or unsportsmanlike conduct foul committed during a touchdown either on the succeeding Try (extra point or two-point conversion) or on the succeeding free kick.

• DISQUALIFICATIONS: Allows League personnel to disqualify for both flagrant football and non-football acts, when a flag is related to an act or action.

NEXT MAN UP: Quarterbacks missed a total of 60 games due to injury in 2018, a 46-percent decline from 2017 (111) and approximately 50 percent fewer than the average over the prior three seasons (118).

In 2018, 16 teams had the same quarterback start every game of the regular season, tied for the fourthmost in a single season since the 1970 merger. In five of the past seven seasons, at least half of the teams have had the same quarterback start all 16 games during the regular season, including an NFL-record 20 quarterbacks in 2012.

Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers has started 208 consecutive regular-season games, the longest active streak in the NFL. With a start in Week 1, Rivers would surpass Peyton Manning (208 consecutive starts, 1998-2011) for the third-most consecutive starts by a quarterback in league history.

Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan has started 147 consecutive games, the fifth-longest streak in league annals and in 2019, he can become the fifth quarterback in NFL history to start 150 consecutive regular season games.

PATCHWORK: The National Football League will celebrate its 100th season in 2019 with a year-long salute to the unparalleled passion of NFL fans, the many contributions of players, coaches and communities that have helped build the league over the past century. In 2019, teams will wear NFL 100 patches above their team logo on the front of the jersey and each ball will be branded with the NFL 100 logo. Also, each team was given a custom-designed logo to celebrate the league’s 100th season.

Additionally, the NFL will raise awareness for cancer though CRUCIAL CATCH with a decal in Weeks 5, 6 and 7. In Weeks 9, 10 and 11, all teams will wear a camouflage ribbon decal on their helmets to celebrate SALUTE TO SERVICE games.

Several NFL franchises will also be wearing special patches in 2019. Along with the league, the Chicago Bears will celebrate their 100th season, while the Oakland Raiders celebrate their franchise’s 60th season and the Carolina Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars each celebrate their 25th seasons.

The Green Bay Packers will wear a number 15 decal this season to commemorate the life of Pro Football Hall of Famer and Packers legend, Bart Starr and the Houston Texans will also wear a jersey patch and a helmet decal to honor the franchise’s founder and late owner Bob McNair.

FIRE UP THE TV! NFL fans continue to tune in to the sport they love. Here’s a look at what’s in store on TV in 2019. The regular-season schedule – spanning 17 weeks and 256 games – kicked off Thursday night in the Windy City and
concludes on Sunday, December 29, with 16 division games.

And speaking of division games, one of the richest rivalries in sports history – Packers-Bears – launched the NFL’s 100th season as the annual prime-time kickoff game at Soldier Field Thursday night. New England begins defense of its Super Bowl LIII title in Foxboro on NBC’s Sunday Night Football, September 8, hosting Pittsburgh at 8:20 p.m.

The 50th season of Monday Night Football kicks off September 9 with an ESPN doubleheader, as Houston travels to New Orleans at 7:10 p.m., followed by Denver at Oakland in the nightcap at 10:20 p.m. ESPN will televise one game each Monday night in Weeks 2-16, including the two teams (Cleveland at the New York Jets, September 16 at 8:15 p.m.) that kicked off the longest running television series in American history, in 1970. 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.

All 32 clubs are again scheduled for at least one nationally televised Thursday, Sunday or Monday game. Thursday Night Football will air exclusively on NFL Network in Weeks 2-3, while FOX kicks off its Thursday night slate in Week 4. FOX will broadcast 11 Thursday Night Football games between Weeks 4-15 (excluding Thanksgiving night). Those FOX games will be simulcast via NFL Network, distributed in Spanish on FOX Deportes and streamed on Amazon Prime Video, beginning with Philadelphia at Green Bay, September 26. All told, NFL Network will exclusively televise seven games (two on Thursday night, two in London and all three in Week 16 on Saturday, December 21), with FOX producing the full slate of 18 games.

A select number of games will be “cross-flexed,” moving between CBS and FOX to bring potentially under-distributed games to wider audiences. Some of those contests were announced April 17 and other “cross-flexed” games will be decided during the season.

The regular season will conclude with Week 17 on Sunday, December 29. For the 11th consecutive year, all 16 games scheduled for Week 17 are division contests, enhancing the potential for more games with playoff ramifications.

Six 2019 games are rematches of 2018 playoff games. That group includes five match-ups that will be played at the home of the team that had to travel in January: Kansas City at New England (December 8 on, CBS), the Los Angeles Rams at Dallas (December 15 on FOX), Chicago at Philadelphia (November 3 on FOX) and Houston at Indianapolis (October 20 on CBS).

The NFL’s 2019 international slate features four games in London and one in Mexico City. The Oakland Raiders will host the Chicago Bears in Week 5 on Sunday, October 6 at 1 p.m. on FOX, in the inaugural NFL game at the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. One week later on Sunday, October 13 at 9:30 a.m. on NFL Network, also at Tottenham, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will host NFC South rival Carolina, who will be playing their first game in London. London action shifts to Wembley Stadium in Weeks 8 and 9 when the Los Angeles Rams host the Cincinnati Bengals on October 27 at 1 p.m. on CBS, followed by the Jacksonville Jaguars hosting AFC South rival Houston, another first-time visitor to London, on November 3 at 9:30 a.m. on NFL Network.

Mexico City’s Azteca Stadium will host a match-up between two AFC West rivals, the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers, in Week 11 on Monday Night Football, November 18 at 8:15 p.m. on ESPN. Both teams will be playing in Mexico for the first time.

Thanksgiving will feature a trio of match-ups in Week 13 on Thursday, November 28. The first game will send the Bears to Detroit to face the Lions at 12:30 p.m. on FOX. The late-afternoon game will feature Buffalo visiting Dallas at 4:30 p.m. on CBS. It will be the Bills’ first game on the holiday in 25 years, since a trip to the Pontiac Silverdome in 1994. The Thanksgiving Day festivities conclude with an NFC South showdown as the Falcons host New Orleans on NBC at 8:20 p.m. in the Big Peach.

The NFL’s 32 teams will each play 16 games over 17 weeks. Byes will begin in Week 4 and end in Week 12. 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 4-5. 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 11-12. The AFC and NFC Championship Games will be played on Sunday, January 19.

The winners meet two weeks later when Miami hosts Super Bowl LIV, on Sunday, February 2 on FOX. The NFL is the only sports league that presents all regular-season and postseason games on free, over-the-air television in local markets and all postseason games are televised nationally. Westwood One will broadcast on radio all NFL prime-time games, the three Thanksgiving Day games and the entire NFL playoffs.

BE FLEXY! In 2006, the NFL implemented a prime-time “flexible scheduling” element on Sundays in Weeks 10-15 and in Week 17. In 2014, that was extended so that games between Weeks 5 and 17 could be affected by flex scheduling. However, only two games may be flexed into Sunday Night between Week 5 and 10.

In Week 16, three of five possible match-ups currently listed as TBD will be scheduled for Saturday on NFL Network: Houston at Tampa Bay, Buffalo at New England, Detroit at Denver, Oakland at the Los Angeles Chargers and San Francisco at the Los Angeles Rams. Start times and Saturday games for Week 16 will be announced no later than following Week 8, with the non-Saturday games to be played on Sunday.

For Week 17, the Sunday night game will be announced no later than six days prior to December 29. The schedule does not list a Sunday night game in Week 17 but an afternoon game with playoff implications could be moved to that time slot. Flexible scheduling ensures quality match-ups in all Sunday time slots in those weeks and gives “surprise” teams a chance to play their way into prime-time.

ON THE RADIO: Are the kids hogging the TV? Is the wife watching those gosh-awful Lifetime Sunday Movies AGAIN? Stuck at the in-laws and you want to watch the Falcons? You can listen on the radio. NFL fans can listen to games on the radio in a number of ways – on Westwood One and SiriusXM NFL Radio.

Westwood One remains the official network radio partner of the NFL, its 33rd consecutive season with that distinction.

The Westwood One NFL schedule features 69 national games, including the Thursday night kickoff game, Monday Night Football, Sunday Night Football, Thursday Night Football, the London Games, the Thanksgiving Day triple-header and the entire postseason, culminating with Super Bowl LIV in Miami. Westwood One also produces weekly specialty programs, including The NFL Today, NFL Preview, NFL Insider, NFL Sunday and NFL Fantasy Football Forecast.

Kevn Harlin and Pro Football Hall of Famer Kurt Warner will be the lead broadcast crew, calling Monday Night Football and Super Bowl LIV for the network. Jim Gray anchors the pregame and halftime shows. Ian Eagle and Tony Boselli will once again be the broadcast crew for Thursday Night Football, while Kevin Kulger and Pro Football Hall of Famer Jason Taylor return as the main crew for Sunday Night Football. Scott Graham serves as the studio host for those broadcasts.

In addition to being heard on more than 500 radio stations across the United States, all of Westwood One’s prime-time NFL broadcasts can also be heard on SiriusXM Satellite Radio, via the TuneIn app and through NFL Game Pass, which is available on NFL.com and the NFL mobile app. For complete information regarding Westwood One’s NFL coverage, including schedules, announcers, highlights, features, interviews and more, log on to westwoodonesports.com.

This year will mark the NFL’s 16th season on SiriusXM. SiriusXM creates and offers commercial-free music, premier sports talk and live events, comedy, news, exclusive talk and entertainment programming.

SiriusXM provides live play-by-play of every NFL game from the preseason through Super Bowl LIV on SiriusXM radios, as well as on the SiriusXM app and online at SiriusXM.com for its subscribers.

SiriusXM NFL Radio (channel 88 on SiriusXM radios and on the SiriusXM app) offers in-depth radio coverage of the NFL 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. SiriusXM NFL Radio offers a daily lineup of exclusive talk programming hosted by former NFL stars and radio personalities. Subscribers can also get SiriusXM NFL Radio programming on demand, allowing them to listen to their favorite shows when they want them, and giving them more chances to hear exclusive programming like the recent Town Hall broadcast with Super Bowl LIII MVP Julian Edelman, training camp tour broadcasts and more. For more information visit siriusxm.com/nflonsxm.

2019 STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE

TEAM (WIN PCT., W-L-T) GAMES VS. TEAMS .500 OR BETTER/GAMES VS. 2018 PLAYOFF TEAMS
Oakland (.539, 137-117-2) 9/7
Denver (.537, 136-117 3) 9/7
Jacksonville (.531, 136-120-0) 9/7
Houston .527 135 121 0 9 7
Chicago (.520, 131 121 4) 8 6
Kansas City (.520, 132-122-2) 9/7
ATLANTA (.518, 132-123-1) 9/7
Indianapolis (.518, 132-123-1) 8/5
Tennessee (.514, 131-124-1) 7/7
Minnesota (.512, 130-124-2) 7/7
San Francisco (.510, 129-124-3) 7/6
Arizona (.508, 129-125-2) 7/6
Tampa Bay (.508, 130-126-0) 7/6
Dallas (.504, 128-126-2) 7/6
Green Bay (.504, 128-126-2) 8/6
Carolina (.502, 128-127-1) 7/6
Los Angeles Chargers (.502, 127-126-3) 8/5
Miami (.500, 127-127-2) 8/7
Baltimore (.496, 125-127-4) 7/5
Detroit (.496, 125-127-4) 8/6
Pittsburgh (.496, 126-128-2) 7/7
New Orleans (.488, 125-131-0 7/6
Cleveland (.484, 123-131-2) 8/5
Buffalo (.480, 122-132-2) 7/5
Seattle (.479, 121-132-3) 7/5
Philadelphia (.477, 121-133-2) 6/5
Cincinnati (.473, 119-133-4) 7/5
Los Angeles Rams .473, 120-134-2) 7/6
New England (.473, 120-134-2) 6/5
New York Giants (.473, 120-134-2) 7/6
New York Jets (.473, 120-134-2) 6/5
Washington (.469, 119-135-2) 7/6

COLLECTING THOSE FREQUENT FLYER MILES: All together, teams will travel approximately 632,752 miles during the 2019 season.

The teams in the NFC West (120,670) combine to have the highest total miles traveled of all divisions. The remaining division totals are the AFC West (107,122), NFC South (84,358), AFC South (75,244), AFC North (73,568), NFC North (67,552), NFC East (53,712) and AFC East (50,526).

Seven teams – Oakland (40,188), the Los Angeles Rams 36,186), Seattle (33,216), the Los Angeles Chargers (32,892), San Francisco (30,210), Tampa Bay (27,670) and Jacksonville (25,336) – will “travel around the world” at least once. A trip around the globe is 25,000 miles.

The London Games 2019 schedule begins with the first two NFL games to be staged at the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, followed by two at Wembley Stadium, bringing the total number of games played in London since 2007 to 28.

Oakland will host the Chicago Bears on Sunday, October 6 in the inaugural NFL game at the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the first purpose-built NFL stadium outside of the United States. One week later, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be at home against the Carolina Panthers, playing their first game in London.

After a two-week break, the action moves to Wembley Stadium, where the Los Angeles Rams, the defending NFC champions, will host Cincinnati on October 27. The following week, Jacksonville will stage their seventh annual home game in London, taking on another first-time visitor as they take on AFC South Rival Houston.

Below is a list of the total estimated round-trip distance in miles for each team in 2019. Please return your trays to the upright position and thank you for flying NFL Airlines.

TEAM – MILES TO TRAVEL
Oakland – 40,188
Los Angeles Rams – 36,186
Seattle – 33,216
Los Angeles Chargers – 32,892
San Francisco – 30,210
Tampa Bay – 27,670
Jacksonville – 25,336
Carolina – 24,352
Houston – 23,512
Cincinnati – 22,470
Arizona – 21,058
Dallas – 20,922
Miami – 20,554
Chicago – 18,684
Baltimore – 18,072
Pittsburgh – 17,530
Detroit – 17,444
Kansas City – 17,044
Denver – 16,998
New Orleans – 16,712
Green Bay – 16,222
ATLANTA – 15,624
Cleveland – 15,496
Minnesota 15,202
Indianapolis 13,822
Tennessee 12,574
Philadelphia 12,374
New England 11,960
Washington 11,170
Buffalo – 10,158
New York Giants – 9,246
New York Jets – 7,854

OTHER KICKOFF WEEKEND NOTES: Kickoff Weekend began Thursday night in prime-time on NBC when two of the NFL’s oldest franchises renew one of the richest rivalries in sports, as the Chicago Bears hosted the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field to begin the league’s 100th season.

Below is a sampling of notable active NFL Kickoff streaks:

The Super Bowl LIII champion New England Patriots open their season at home against Pittsburgh on Sunday Night Football. The Patriots have won nine of their past 10 home openers on Kickoff Weekend.

• Denver, who begins the season by visiting Oakland on Monday Night Football, have posted a .672 winning percentage (39-19-1) on Kickoff Weekend, the top mark in the league. Denver has won its past seven Kickoff Weekend games, the longest active streak in the NFL.

• The defending AFC West champion Kansas City Chiefs, who travel to Jacksonville to face off against the Jaguars in Week 1, have won their last four Kickoff Weekend games, tied for the league’s second-longest active streak.

• Dak Prescott and the defending NFC East champion Dallas Cowboys host Eli Manning and the New York Giants in a division showdown on Kickoff Weekend. Dallas and New York face each other on Kickoff Weekend for the fourth time in the last five years. With a winning percentage of .655 (38-20-1), the Cowboys own the best Kickoff Weekend winning percentage in the NFC.

• Seattle, who returned to the playoffs in 2018, hosts Cincinnati on Kickoff Weekend. The Seahawks have won 10 consecutive home openers, the longest active streak in the league.

• Washington faces NFC East rival Philadelphia on the road in the City of Brotherly Love to start 2019. Washington has won its past three road openers, the longest active streak in the league.

HEAD COACHES: New England’s Bill Belichick is 16-8 (.667) on Kickoff Weekend and his 16 wins are the most among active head coaches…Belichick and Kansas City’s ANDY REID (12-8, .600) are the only active head coaches who have won at least 10 Kickoff Weekend games…Reid has won four consecutive games on Kickoff Weekend, the longest current streak among active head coaches. Dough Pederson (3-0) of the Eagles and Sean McVay (2-0) of the Rams are the only active head coaches with perfect records on Kickoff Weekend…Six head coaches – Denver’s Vic Fangio, Miami’s Brian Flores, Arizona’s Kliff Kingsbury, Cleveland’s Freddie Kitchens, Green Bay’s Matt LaFleur and Cincinnati’s Zac Taylor – make their Kickoff Weekend debuts in 2019.

HOPE DOES SPRING ETERNAL: New teams making the playoffs and winning divisions, consistent teams excelling once again, records falling and young players making their mark all combined to help shape the story of the 2018 season.

Again, Week 17 came right down to the wire as three playoff spots and three division titles – the AFC North, AFC South and AFC West – were decided on the last day of the season. The excitement of Week 17 was due in part to having 16 divisional games played on the season’s final day, a tradition instituted in 2010. Every team enters the 2019 season with a trip to Miami and Super Bowl LIV in mind and below are a few reasons why.

• Two of the eight divisions in 2018 were won by a team that finished in last place in the division the previous season – Houston (AFC South) and Chicago (NFC North). In 15 of the past 16 seasons, at least one team finished in first place in its division the season after finishing in last or tied for last place. Since the NFL expanded to 32 teams in 2002, two teams have gone “worst to first” en route to a Super Bowl victory — the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles and the 2009 New Orleans Saints.

• Since the NFL adopted the 12-team playoff format in 1990, at least four teams every season have qualified for the playoffs after failing to make the postseason the year before. Seven teams that missed the postseason in 2017 – Baltimore (10-6), Chicago (12-4), Dallas (10-6), Houston (11-5), Indianapolis (10-6), the Los Angeles Chargers (12-4) and Seattle (10-6) – accomplished the feat in 2018.

THE TEAMS SINCE 1990 TO MAKE THE PLAYOFFS A SEASON AFTER FAILING TO QUALIFY
SEASON – PLAYOFF TEAMS NOT IN PREVIOUS SEASON’S PLAYOFFS
1990 – 7 (Cincinnati, Chicago, Kansas City, Los Angeles Raiders, Miami, New Orleans, Washington)
1991 – 5 (ATLANTA, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, New York Jets)
1992 – 6 (Miami, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Diego, San Francisco)
1993 – 5 (Denver, Detroit, Green Bay, Los Angeles Raiders, New York Giants)
1994 – 5 (Chicago, Cleveland, Miami, New England, San Diego)
1995 – 4 (ATLANTA, Buffalo, Indianapolis, Philadelphia)
1996 – 5 (Carolina, Denver, Jacksonville, Minnesota, New England)
1997 – 5 (Detroit, Kansas City, Miami, New York Giants, Tampa Bay)
1998 – 5 (Arizona, Atlanta, Buffalo, Dallas, New York Jets)
1999 – 7 (Detroit, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Seattle, Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Washington)
2000 – 6 (Baltimore, Denver, New Orleans, New York Giants, Oakland, Philadelphia)
2001 – 6 (Chicago, Green Bay, New England, New York Jets, Pittsburgh, San Francisco)
2002 – 5 (ATLANTA, Cleveland, Indianapolis, New York Giants, Tennessee)
2003 – 8 (Baltimore, Carolina, Dallas, Denver, Kansas City, New England, St. Louis, Seattle)
2004 – 5 (ATLANTA, Minnesota, New York Jets, Pittsburgh, San Diego)
2005 – 7 (Carolina, Chicago, Cincinnati, Jacksonville, New York Giants, Tampa Bay, Washington)
2006 – 7 (Baltimore, Dallas, Kansas City, New Orleans, New York Jets, Philadelphia, San Diego)
2007 – 6 (Green Bay, Jacksonville, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Washington)
2008 – 7 (Arizona, Atlanta, Baltimore, Carolina, Miami, Minnesota, Philadelphia)
2009 – 6 (Cincinnati, Dallas, Green Bay, New England, New Orleans, New York Jets)
2010 – 5 (ATLANTA, Chicago, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Seattle)
2011 – 6 (Cincinnati, Denver, Detroit, Houston, New York Giants, San Francisco)
2012 – 4 (Indianapolis, Minnesota, Seattle, Washington)
2013 – 5 (Carolina, Kansas City, New Orleans, Philadelphia, San Diego)
2014 – 5 (Arizona, Baltimore, Dallas, Detroit, Pittsburgh)
2015 – 4 (Houston, Kansas City, Minnesota, Washington)
2016 – 6 (AATLANTA, Dallas, Detroit, Miami, New York Giants, Oakland)
2017 – 8 (Buffalo, Carolina, Jacksonville, Los Angeles Rams, Minnesota, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Tennessee)
2018 – 7 (Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles Chargers, Seattle)

• The New England Patriots won their sixth Super Bowl title in 2018 and begin their quest to repeat as champions as the race to Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium for Super Bowl LIV kicks off. Only eight teams have repeated as champions since the first Super Bowl after the 1966 season, with the 2004 Patriots (Super Bowls XXXVIII and XXXIX) being the last team to accomplish the feat.

• Eight teams enter the 2019 season with a new head coach – Kliff Kingsbury in Arizona, Zac Taylor in Cincinnati, Freddie Kitchens in Cleveland, Vic Fangio in Denver, Matt Lafleur in Green Bay, Brian Flores in Miami, Adam Gase with the New York Jets and Bruce Arians in Tampa Bay.

• Four rookie head coaches have led their teams to the playoffs over the last two seasons: Matt Nagy (Chicago) and Frank Reich (Indianapolis) in 2018 and Sean McVay (Los Angeles Rams) and Sean McDermott (Buffalo) in 2017.

• Three quarterbacks – Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray (Number 1 overall, Arizona), Duke’s Daniel Jones (Number 6, New York Giants) and Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins (Number 15, Washington) – were selected in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft.

At least one rookie quarterback has started in Week 1 in 11 consecutive seasons, the longest streak in the NFL since at least 1950.

• Several notable players were on the move during the off-season, including quarterbacks Joe Flacco (Denver) and Nick Foles (Jacksonville); running backs Le’Veon Bell (New York Jets), Mark Ingram (Baltimore) and Frank Gore (Buffalo); wide receivers Odell Beckham, Jr. (Cleveland), Antonio Brown (Oakland) and Golden Tate (New York Giants); tight end Jared Cook (New Orleans); tackle Trent Brown (Oakland); guard Rodger Saffold (Tennessee); center Mitch Morse (Buffalo); defensive ends Ezekiel Ansah (Seattle), Frank Clark (Kansas City), Trey Flowers (Detroit) and Cameron Wake (Tennessee); defensive tackles Malik Jackson (Philadelphia) and Gerald McCoy (Carolina); linebackers Dee Ford (San Francisco), Clay Matthews (Los Angeles Rams), C.J. Mosley (New York Jets) and Terrell Suggs (Arizona); cornerbacks Robert Alford (Arizona), Steven Nelson (Pittsburgh) and Bradley Roby (Houston) and safeties Landon Collins (Washington), Tyrann Mathieu (Kansas City), Earl Thomas (Baltimore) and Eric Weddle (Los Aneles Rams).

WORST TO FIRST: Competitive balance, one of the hallmarks of the NFL, gives fans hope entering each season. For the 15th time in the past 16 seasons, at least one team finished in first place in its division the season after finishing in last or tied for last place. In fact, of the 48 teams in league history to go from “worst to first,” 25 of them (52 percent) have done so in the past 16 years (2003-18), including an NFL-record three such teams in 2005 and 2006.

After finishing in last place in the division in 2017, the Chicago Bears (NFC North) and Houston Texans (AFC South) each turned it around to win their respective divisions last season. The Bears finished with a 12-4 record and an NFC North title after winning nine of their final 10 games and posting the franchise’s best home record (7-1) since the 2005 season. The AFC South champion Texans set a league record for the most consecutive wins following an 0-3 start, rattling off nine straight victories. Houston became the first team to begin a season 0-3 and win a division title since the 1992 San Diego Chargers.

TEAMS TO GO “WORST TO FIRST” SINCE 2003
SEASON – TEAM (RECORD, PRIOR SEASON RECORD)
2003 – Carolina (11-5, 7-9)
2003 – Kansas City (13-3 8-8)*
2004 – ATLANTA (11-5, 5-11)
2004 – San Diego (12-4 4-12)*
2005 – Chicago 11-5, 5-11)
2005 – New York Giants (11-5, 6-10)*
2005 – Tampa Bay (11-5, 5-11)
2006 – Baltimore (13-3, 6-10)*
2006 – New Orleans (10-6, 3-13)
2006 – Philadelphia (10-6, 6-10)
2007 – Tampa Bay (9-7 4-12)
2008 – Miami (11-5 1-15)
2009 – New Orleans (13-3, 8-8)**
2010 – Kansas City (10-6, 4-12)
2011 – Denver (8-8, 4-12)
2011 – Houston (10-6, 6-10)*
2012 – Washington (10-6, 5-11)
2013 – Carolina (12-4, 7-9)*
2015 – Washington (9-7, 4-12)
2016 – Dallas (4-12, 13-3)
2017 – Jacksonville (10-6, 3-13)
2017 – Philadelphia (13-3, 7-9)**
2018 – Chicago (13-3, 5-11)
2018 – Houston (11-5, 4-12)
* Tied for last place
** Won Super Bowl

KICKOFF WEEKEND RECORDS OF NFL TEAMS

TEAM: W-L-T, PCT.; W-L (CURRENT)
Denver: 39-19-1, .672; 7-4 (W-7)
Dallas: 38-20-1, .655; 17-5 (L-1)
Green Bay: 56-39-3, .589; 5-6 (W-4)
Minnesota: 33-24-1, .579; 5-3 (W-3)
Chicago: 54-40 5 .574; 9-6 (L-5)
New York Giants: 50-39-5, .562; 4-5 L-2
New England: 33-26-0, .559; 10-3 (W-1)
Miami: 29-23-1, .558; 11-5 (W-2)
Detroit: 48-39 2, .552; 10-4 (L-1)
Pittsburgh: 43-36-5, .544; 8-3 T-1)
Los Angeles Chargers: 32-27-0, .542; 6-6 (L-3)
Kansas City: 32-27-0, .542; 7-4 (W-4)
Jacksonville: 13-11-0, .542; 6-5 (W-2)
San Francisco: 37-31-1, .544; 6-3 (L-2)
Houston: 9-8-0, .529; 5-3 (L-2)
ATLANTA: 28-25-0, .528; 5-3 (L-1)
Baltimore: 12-11-0, .522; 5-4 (W-3)
Los Angeles Rams: 42-39-0, .519; 5-6 (W-2)
Tennessee: 30-29-0, .508; 4-3 (L-3)
Indianapolis: 33-33-0 .500; 8-8 (L-5)
Washington: 41-42-4, .494 6-5 (W-1)
New York Jets: 28-31 0, .475; 5-5 (W-1)
Cincinnati: 24-27-0, .471; 4-4 (W-1)
Oakland 27-32-0, .458; 5-6 (L-1)
Philadelphia: 38-46-1, .452; 5-9 (W-3)
Cleveland: 27-38-1, .417; 5-13 (T-1)
Tampa Bay: 18-25-0, .419; 3-5 (W-3)
Carolina: 10-14-0, .417; 3-5 (W-2)
Arizona: 40-56-2, .417; 6-7 (L-3)
Buffalo: 24-35-0, .407; 6-5 (L-1)
Seattle: 16-27-0, .372; 38 (L-2)
New Orleans: 17-35-0, .327; 36 (L-5)

OPENING-GAME RECORDS OF NFL HEAD COACHES
COACH, TEAM (W-L, PCT.)
Doug Pederson, Philadelphia (3-0, 1.000)
Sean McVay, Los Angeles Rams (2-0, 1.000)
Mike Zimmer, Minnesota (4-1, .800)
Doug Marrone, Jacksonville (3-1, .750)
John Harbaugh Baltimore (8-3, .727)
Bill Belichick New England (16-8, .667)
Adam Gase, New York Jets (2-1, .667)
Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh (7-4-1, .625)
Andy Reid, Kansas City (12-8, .600)
Pete Carroll, Seattle (7-6, .538)
Jason Garrett, Dallas (4-4, .500)
Sean McDermott, Buffalo (1-1, .500)
Dan Quinn, Atlanta (2-2, .500)
Ron Rivera, Carolina (4-4, .500)
Sean Payton, New Orleans 5-7 .417)
Bruce Arians, Tampa Bay (2-3, .400)
Bill O’Brien, Houston (2-3, .400)
Jon Gruden, Oakland (4-8, .333)
Jay Gruden, Washington (1-4, .200)
Matt Nagy, Chicago (0-1, .000)
Matt Patricia, Detroit (0-1, .000)
Frank Reich, Indianapolis (0-1, .000)
Mike Vrabel, Tennessee (0-1, .000)
Kyle Shanahan, San Francisco (0-2, .000)
Anthony Lynn, Los Angeles Chargers (0-2, .000)
Pat Shurmur, New York Giants (0-3, .000)
Vic Fangio, Denver (0-0, .000)
Brian Flores, Miami (0-0, .000)
Kliff Kingsbury, Arizona (0-0, .000)
Freddie Kitchens, Cleveland (0-0, .000)
Matt LaFleur, Green Bay (0-0, .000)
Zac Taylor, Cincinnati (0-0, .000)

GET OFF TO A STRONG START: Getting off to a strong start is important. Over the past 10 years, seven teams – Denver, New England, Baltimore, Green Bay, Atlanta, Cincinnati and Dallas – have a winning percentage of at least .600 through the season’s first month. Those seven clubs have combined for 44 playoff berths and 10 Super Bowl appearances – including six Super Bowl championships – during that span.

TEAMS WITH THE BEST OPENING-MONTH RECORDS OVER PAST 10 YEARS (2009-18)
TEAM W-L-T, PCT. (PLAYOFF BERTHS-SUPER BOWL BERTHS-SUPER BOWL WINS)
Denver: 23-9-0, .719 (5-2-1)
New England: 24-10-0, .706 (10-5-3)
Baltimore: 23-11-0, .676 (6-1-1)
Green Bay: 22-11-1, .662 (8-1-1)
ATLANTA: 21-13-0, .618 (5-1-0)
Cincinnati: 21-13-0, .618 (6-0-0)
Dallas: 20-13-0, .606 (4-0-0)

In 2018, the four teams to appear on Championship Weekend — Kansas City, the Los Angeles Rams, New England and New Orleans — began with a combined 13-3 record during the first month of the season.

Since this is the opening weekend, we’re going to make every game this weekend 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 59 last June and dates a 43-year old ex-Marine, who’s now the vice principal 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?”)

Week one got underway in the Windy City as Green Bay held off the Monsters of the Midway, beating their hated NFC North rivals from the Land of beer, cheese and Bratwurst 10-3 Thursday night and will conclude on Monday night with two Monday night games. As far as last year’s numbers, we were 152-112. Not bad. That was last year, thought. This is a new season. Having said all that, here are Sunday and Monday week one picks!

ATLANTA (7-9) at Minnesota (8-7), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 710. A pair of teams that just missed the playoffs last year open Sunday’s action in the Land of 10,000 Lakes as Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons travel to the Twin Cities for an early afternoon date with the Minnesota Vikings. Minnesota holds a 18-10 lead in the series and the Vikings have outscored Atlanta 657-461. They last met in the Big Peach in 2017 and the Vikings have won the last three meetings and came away with a 14-9 win over the Falcons at Mercedes Benz Stadium. Atlanta’s last win over the Purple Gang? 2011 in the Big Peach, as the Falcons were 24-14 winners in the old Georgia Dome. The Vikings are favored by 3 1/2 in the Land of 10,000 Lakes and the over/under is 47. Both numbers are reasonable but the Vikings best be on upset alert in the Twin Cities. Atlanta wins this one on the road and covers the 4.

Los Angeles Rams (13-3) at Carolina (7-9), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 709. The defending NFC champs travel to the Tar Heel State for a meeting with Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. Carolina leads the series 12-8 and have outscored the Rams 405-402 (which includes games that were played when the Rams were in St. Louis from 1995-2015). Carolina has won the last two meetings, with the Panthers coming away 13-10 winners in Los Angeles in 2016, while Los Angeles’ last win over the Panthers came in 2010 in St. Louis by a final of 20-10. The Rams are a 1 1/2-point road favorite in the Tar Heel State and the over/under’s 49 1/2. Rams take the win in the Tar Heel State and covers the 1 1/2.

Tennessee (9-7) at Cleveland (7-8-1), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 705. Marcus Mariota and the Titans travel to the shores of Lake Erie to take a vastly-improved Cleveland Browns team in the Buckeye State. sIncluding games that were played when the Titans were in Houston and they were known as the Oilers, Cleveland leads the series 35-30 and the Browns have outscored Tennessee 1,287-1,266. The two clubs split their last four meetings, each taking wins in their home parks and on the road. The Titans needed overtime along the shores of Lake Erie to take a 12-9 win in 2017, while Cleveland’s last win also came in the Buckeye State by a final of 28-14 in 2015. The odds makers in Vegas like the Browns as a 5 1/2-point favorite and the over/under’s 44 1/2. Browns may not cover but they take the win at home.

Kansas City (12-4) at Jacksonville (5-11), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 706. Kansas City, the defending AFC West champs, travel to the Sunshine State for an early afternoon contest with the Jacksonville Jaguars in north Florida. The series is even with each team taking six wins and the Chiefs have outscored Jacksonville 270-237. The Chiefs have won the last four meetings in the series and came away with a 30-14 win at Arrowhead last year. Jacksonville’s last win in the series came in 2009 in north Florida by a final of 24-21.

The week five meeting in the Show-Me State did not go well for the Jaguars as Kansas City held a 20-0 lead at the half but the Jaguars managed to out score Kansas City 14-10 in the final 30 minutes of play. Kansas City out-rushed Jacksonville 126-101 with Chiefs RB Kareem Hunt leading the way with 87 yards and a rushing TD. Mahomes threw for 313 yards but was picked off twice and sacked once, while Bortles threw for 430 yards and a TD toss to T.J. Yeldon, while being sacked five times and throwing four interceptions. Jacksonville was 7 of 16 on third down (they were 3 of 5 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 27:17, while the Chiefs ruled the clock, holding the pigskin for 32:43, going 4 of 12 on third down tries.

Kansas City covered the 3-point spread, winning by 16 at Arrowhead but neither team reached the 48 1/2 over/under, tallying only 44 points. The Chiefs are favored again, this time by 3 1/2 and the over/under’s 50 1/2. Jacksonville will make things interesting in the Sunshine State but the Chiefs prevail on the road with the win, although expect Jacksonville to make it closer than 3 1/2.

Baltimore (10-6) at Miami (7-9), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 707. The Ravens, coming off an appearnce in the AFC Wild Card game against the Los Angeles Chargers, make the 1,108-mile trip down I-95 to take on the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium. The Ravens lead the series, 7-6 and Baltimore has outscored Miami 276-203. The Ravens won the last two contests, shutting out Miami 40-0 in Charm City in 2017, while Miami’s last win in the series came in the Sunshine State in 2015 by a final of 15-13. Baltimore’s favored by 6 1/2 on South Beach and the over/under’s 38 1/2. Dolphins may not cover the 6 1/2 but they take care of business in the Sunshine State with the win.

Buffalo (6-10) at New York Jets (4-12), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 708. A pair of AFC East rivals meet in upstate New Jersey as the Bills and Jets, looking to improve on dismal seasons meet at Met Life Stadium. Buffalo leads the Empire State series 61-55 and the Bills have outscored GangGreen 2,436-2,379, which includes contests that were played when the Jets known as Titans prior to 1963 and the teams played their home contests at old War Memorial Stadium in Buffalo and Shea Stadium in New York.

The Bills and Jets split the two meetings last year, each taking road AFC East wins. They met along the Jersey shores in week 10 and the Bills circled the wagons at Met Life Stadium in mid-November, leaving the Meadowlands with a 41-10 win. Buffalo led 31-3 at the half and never looked back, holding GangGreen to an Isaiah Crowell rushing TD in the second half. LeSean McCoy rushed for 113 yards and a pair of TDs for the Bills as Buffalo out-rushed the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! 212-83 while Matt Barkley threw for 232 yards and a pair of TDs (Barkley was sacked once but did not throw an interception). Josh McCown threw for 135 yards for GangGreen with three sacks and a pair of interceptions in the home loss. Buffalo was 8 for 16 on third down (they were perfect in their only fourth down try) and kept the ball for 39:22, while the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! were dismal on third down tries at Met Life Stadium, going 1 for 12 (they were 2 for 3 on fourth down) and held on to the ball for 20:38.

GangGreen would get revenge along the shores of Lake Erie in week 14 (temperature in the week 10 contest? A balmy 46 degrees with a 41 wind chill; in the week 14 contest in upstate New York? 31 degrees with a 22 wind chill) and escaped with a 27-23 win at New Era Stadium. Buffalo led 20-13 at the end of the third quarter (the Bills led 17-13 at the half) before GangGreen would take the lead for keeps with 77 seconds left in the contest when Elijah McGuire scored on a one-yard run. The J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! would hold off a late Buffalo rally and leave upstate New York with the win. Buffalo again out-rushed GangGreen, tallying 176 yards in the contest (Bills QB Josh Allen led all rushers with 101 yards), while holding the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! to 78. Allen threw for 206 yards but was sacked three times and picked off twice, while Sam Darnold threw for 170 and a TD with an interception. New York was 6 for 13 on third down (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and held the ball for 26:13, while the Bills ruled the clock again, keeping the ball for 33:47, going 7 of 14 on third down tries.

In the week 10 contest along the Jersey shore, GangGreen was favored by 7 1/2 and the Bills easily covered the spread, winning by 31 and both clubs took care of the 37 over/under, scoring 51 points. As for the week 14 affair in upstate New York? While the Jets were winners by 3 points, they barely missed the 3 1/2-point spread but both teams covered the 38 1/2 over/under, tallying 50 points. GangGreen’s favored by 2 1/2 and the over/under’s 40 1/2. While this one is not exactly the best game to watch this week, it will at least be entertaining. GangGreen covers the 3 in Jersey and takes the win at Met Life.

Washington (7-9) at Philadelphia (9-7), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 711. A pair of NFC East rivals meet in the City of Brotherly Love as the Redskins take the 129-mile trip up I-95 to take on Carson Wentz and the Philadelphia Eagles. Washington leads the series 85-77-5 (which includes games that were played in Boston when the Redskins were known as the Braves) and the Eagles have outscored Washington 3,518- 3,308. That’s the good news for Redskins fans. The bad news? The Eagles have won the last four contests that were played in the series, including sweeping last year’s series (Washington’s last win came in the City of Brotherly Love in 2016 by a final of 27-22).

Meeting number one… Philadelphia in week 13. The Eagles, fresh off their Super Bowl win, led Washington 14-13 at the break at Lincoln Financial Field, then floored the gas in the final quarter, scoring 14 points unchallenged to take a 28-13 win. Philadelphia out-rushed Washington 130-104 and Carson Wentz threw for 306 yards with a pair of TDs, while Mark Sanchez threw for 100 yards with a pair of sacks (each was picked off once). Philadelphia was 7 of 13 on third down and ruled the clock, holding on to the ball for 39:19, while Washington kept the pigskin for 20:41 and went 2 for 10 on third down tries.

The Eagles made it a sweep in the season finale at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, putting a nail in Washington’s playoff hopes and scored all 24 of their points unchallenged to shut out the Redskins 24-0. Philadelphia led 10-0 at the intermission and never looked back, using a pair of Nick Foles TD tosses to take the win that would put them back into post-season play. The Eagles held Washington to 21 yards of rushing, while tallying 129 of their own and kept Washington in check on the road. Philadelphia was 8 of 14 on third down (they were successful in their only fourth down try) and kept the ball for 43:19 to Washington’s 16:41, with the Redskins going a dismal 0 for 9 on third down, 2 for 4 on fourth down.

In the week 13 Monday night contest, Philadelphia covered the 6 1/2-point spread, winning by 15 but both clubs missed the 44 over/under by a field goal. The Eagles also covered the spread in the season finale at Landover (6 1/2), winning by 24 but neither club covered the 42 over/under. The boys and girls in Vegas like the Eagles as a 10-point favorite and the over/under is 44. The 44 makes sense. The 10 is a bit steep. Washington fans will either be singing “Hail to the Redskins!” or “Hell, it’s the Redskins!” Eagles fans like the second better. Washington makes it closer than 10 but Eagles win in the City of Brotherly Love.

Indianapolis (10-6) at Los Angeles Chargers (12-4), 4:05 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 712. Without Andrew Luck under center, the Indianapolis Colts travel to the West Coast to square off against Philip Rivers and the Los Angeles Chargers at Stub Hub Centre. Including contest that were played in Baltimore and San Diego, the Chargers lead the series 16-10 and the Bolts have outscored Indianapolis 616-449. Indy won the last meeting in the series, coming away 26-22 winners in the Hoosier State in 2016, while the Chargers’ last win came in San Diego in 2013 by a final of 19-9. The Bolts are a 6 1/2 point favorite on the Left Coast with a 44 1/2 over/under. Both teams went to post-season last year and both look to go back, either as division winners or wild card teams. Chargers cover the 6 1/2 and win at home at Stub Hub.

Cincinnati (6-10) at Seattle (10-6), 4:05 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 713. It’s chili vs. Salmon as Andy Dalton and Cincinnati make their way to the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks for a late-afternoon contest in the Pacific Northwest for a meeting with Russell Wilson and Seattle. The Bengals hold a 10-9 lead in the series and they have outscored Seattle 415-374. Cincinnati has won the last two meetings in the series, with the Bengals taking a 27-24 overtime win along the banks of the Ohio River in 2015, while Seattle’s last victory was in 2007 in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks by a final of 24-21.

Seattle’s favored by 9 1/2 with a 44 4/2 over/under. Cincinnati will keep the Seahawks in check but Seattle prevails in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks to take the win.

Detroit (6-10) at Arizona (3-13), 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 714. A pair of struggling teams from the 2018 campaign meet in the desert as Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions pay a visit to Glendale to face off against number one draft pick Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals. Including games that were played in Chicago and St. Louis, when the Cardinals called those cities home and the Lions were in Portsmouth and known as the Spartans, Detroit leads the 33-28 and they have outscored the Desert Angry Birds 1,199-1,088. Detroit has won the last two meetings, including coming away 17-3 winners last year in the desert (Arizona’s last win came in the Motor City in 2015, as the Cardinals left Detroit with a 42-17 win).

After a scoreless first quarter in their week 14 affair at State Farm Stadium, Matt Prater gave the Lions a 3-0 lead that they would take with them to the intermission. After a Darius Slay interception for a TD, Detroit took a 10-0 lead with them to the fourth quarter before the Desert Angry Birds would dent the scoreboard on a Zane Gonzalez field goal, Zach Zenner closed out the scoring with a 1-yard TD run with 4:05 left in the contest.

The Lions out-rushed Arizona 122-61 and Stafford threw for 101 without an interception (he was sacked once), while Josh Rosen threw for 240 yards with three sacks and an interception. Detroit was 4 of 12 on third down and kept the ball for 28:16, while the Desert Angry Birds ruled the clock and kept the pigskin for 31:44, while going 6 of 16 on third down, 0 for 1 on fourth down.

In the week fourteen contest in the desert, Detroit easily covered the 2 1/2-point spread, winning by 14 but the 40 1/2 over/under was untouched as both teams combined for only 20 points. In this meeting in the desert, the Lions are favored by 3 with a 46 1/2 over/under. We wouldn’t blame you one bit if you took a pass on this one and watched that “Mythbusters” marathon on Discovery (there’s nothing more exciting than seeing Buster get blown up!). The Desert Angry Birds prevail in Glendale and cover the 3.

New York Giants (5-11) at Dallas (10-6), 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 715. Eli vs. Dak. A pair of NFC East rivals meet in the Lone Star State as the Cowboys host the Giants at Jerry World (aka AT&T Stadium). Dallas will have another weapon in their quiver as RB Ezekiel Elliott finally came to terms with the team and came back to Dallas. The Cowboys lead the series 66-45-2 (which includes contests that were played at Yankee Stadium, the Cotton Bowl, the Yale Bowl, Cowboys Stadium and Giants Stadium) and the Cowboys have outscored the Giants 2,554-2,180. Dallas has won the last four meetings in the series with their NFC East rivals (New York’s last win came in the Meadowlands in 2016 by a final of 10-6).

They met in the Lone Star State in week two and the Cowboys came away 20-13 winners on a Sunday night. Dallas led 10-0 at the half but the Giants would make it closer than Cowboys fans wanted as Aldrick Rosas connected on a 38-yard field goal with 11 seconds left. The Giants then tried an onside kick in the hopes of getting the ball back to no avail as Dallas would recover the ball and run out the clock. Dallas out-rushed the Giants 138-35, with Elliot leading all rushers with 78 yards and a rushing TD, while Prescott threw for 160 yards (Manning threw for 279 yards with six sacks; both Manning and Prescott threw a TD pass without an interception). The Giants were 8 of 17 on third down tries (they were 2 of 2 on fourth down) and actually ruled the clock as they kept the ball for 32:12, while the Cowboys were 3 for 10 on third down (1 of 1 on fourth down) and held on to the ball for 27:48.

They would meet in the Meadowlands in week 17 and while the second contest was closer, the result was the same… Dallas coming out victors, this time rallying to come away 36-35 winners at Met Life Stadium. Dallas led 14-7 at the intermission in upstate New Jersey but saw that lead get away from them as the Giants would lead 35-28 with 2:35 left in regulation, thanks in part to a 38-yard field goal by Rosas. That lead would not last very long as Dallas used a 9-play, 70-yard drive that used 83 seconds of clock and sent Giants fans home sad as The Giants seemed to clinch the game when Dallas receiver Cole Beasley was ruled out of the back of the end zone on a Prescott (387 yards, four TDs) pass on fourth-and-15 with 72 seconds left. But a video review showed that Beasley got his knee down in-bounds and the play was changed from an incomplete pass to a 32-yard touchdown. Prescott then threw the go-ahead two-point conversion to rookie receiver Michael Gallup.

The Giants actually out-rushed Dallas 143-51, with Sequan Barkley leading everyone with 109 yards on the ground and a TD, while Manning threw for 301 yards and a pair of TDs (Manning was sacked once and picked off once, while Prescott was sacked four times but did not throw an interception). Dallas was 11 of 17 on third down tries (they were 2 for 2 on fourth down) and held on to the ball for 30:52, while the Giants were 7 of 15 on third down (they went 2 for 3 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 29:08.

Dallas covered the 3-point spread in the Sunday night contest in Arlington, winning by 7 and the 33 combined points meant that the 42 over/under was untouched. In the season finale rematch in the Meadowlands, the Giants were favored by 6 1/2 but Dallas would win by only a single point. The two clubs did manage to take care of the 42 1/2 over/under, tallying 71 points in the contest. In this season opener in the Lone Star State, the Cowboys are favored by 7 and the over/under’s 45 1/2. Both numbers sound reasonable and the Giants have kept things close in the last two meetings with their NFC East rivals. Big Blue will do the same but Dallas prevails at home at Jerry World and takes the win at home.

San Francisco (4-12) at Tampa Bay (5-11), 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 716. A pair of struggling NFC teams meet on Florida’s Gulf Coast in a late afternoon contest as Jameis Winston and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the San Francisco 49ers.

The 49ers lead the series 17-6 and they have outscored Tampa Bay 520-356. They met last year in the Sunshine State (San Francisco’s last win over Tampa Bay came in the Sunshine State in 2013 by a final of 33-14) and the Bucs prevailed at home on Florida’s West Coast, coming away 27-9 winners. In the week 12 contest, Tampa Bay led 13-6 at the half before going on in the final 30 minutes of play to outscore the 49ers 14-3. The 49ers out-rushed Tampa Bay 148-108 with San Francisco RB Matt Breida leading the way with 106 yards on the ground. Nick Mullens threw for 221 yards for the 49ers with a TD pass to Dante Pettis but was sacked four times and picked off twice, while Jameis Winston threw for 312 yards and a pair of TDs (Winston was sacked once but did not throw an interception).

Third down tries? The 49ers were a somewhat dismal 1 of 8 and kept the ball for 25:51, while the Bucs ruled the clock for 34:09 and went 7 of 13 on third down conversions in the Sunshine State. In the week 12 contest, Tampa Bay covered the 3 1/2-point spread, winning by 18 but the 36 points the two teams scored came nowhere near the 55 over/under. The Bucs are favored by 1 1/2 and the over/under’s 50 1/2. Well, if you’re a fan of either team, feel free to watch this one; otherwise, may we suggest the “Mythbusters” special on Discovery? Bucs prevail in the Sunshine State and covers the 1 1/2.

Pittsburgh (9-6-1) at New England (11-5), 8:20 p.m. on NBC. They have 12 Lombardi Trophies between them. Each team has six. The home team wants to make it seven. Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers make their way to Foxboro for a Sunday night contest with Tom Brady and the defending Super Bowl champs at Gillette Stadium. For the Steelers, it’s their chance to knock the Pats from their pedestal. As for the Patriots? They want to be king of the NFL mountain and they added another piece to the puzzle by signing WR Antonio Brown after the Raiders cut him loose. Brown will not play this week but will suit up when the Pats head to Miami next week.

Pittsburgh leads the series 15-12 and they have outscored New England 621-584. The two clubs have met the last four seasons and the Steelers avenged a controversial 27-24 loss at home in 2017 to take a 17-10 win at Heinz Field.

The week 15 late afternoon contest saw the Steelers take a 14-7 lead with them to the locker room at the half as both Braby and Roethlisberger threw TDs passes in the first quarter. Rothelisberger would then add a second TD toss in the second quarter as he and WR Antonio Brown connected on a toss that would give them the lead for good with 12:01 left before the break. Chris Boswell and Stephen Gostkowski each traded field goals in the final 30 minutes of play to close out the scoring at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh outrushed New England 158-96 and Steelers RB Jaylen Samuels led all rushers with 142 yards, while Roethlisberger threw for 235 yards with a pair of sacks and a pair of interceptions (Brady threw for 279 yards with a TD, sack and interception). Pittsburgh was 4 of 9 on third down tries and kept the ball for 30:49, while the Patriots were 3 of 10 on third down, 0 of 1 on fourth down and kept the ball for 29:11.

Pittsburgh covered the 2 1/2-point spread with the seven-point win at Heinz Field but the 52 over/under was intact, as both clubs merged for 27 points. This time, Brady and the Patriots are favored by 5 1/2 in Foxboro and the over/under’s 49. There is a chance these two could meet in the AFC championship game either at Heinz Field or Gillette Stadium come January. Brady and the Pats raise the championship banner Sunday night and takes the win in upstate Massachusetts, even though the Steelers will make this one closer than the 5 1/2.

Houston (11-5) at New Orleans (13-3), 7:10 p.m. Monday night on ESPN. Separated by 348 miles along I-10, J.J. Watt and the Houston Texans travel to the Big Easy for the first of two Monday night contest as the New Orleans Saints and Drew Brees play host.

The series is tied at 2-2 and the Texans have outscored New Orleans 90-87. Houston won the last meeting, taking a 24-6 win in 2015 in the Lone Star State, while New Orleans’ last win in the series came in 2011 in the Big Easy by a final of 40-33. On Monday night, the Texans are 5-8 (they won their lone meeting last season in prime-time), while the Saints are 20-22 but won their two Monday night contests last year. New Orleans is favored by 7 in the Big Easy and the over/under’s 53. This could wind up be a somewhat entertaining Monday night contest. Houston pulls the upset in the Big Easy and leaves New Orleans with the win.

Denver (6-10) at Oakland (4-12), 10:20 p.m. Monday night on ESPN. Forget the records. These two AFC West teams don’t like each. Granted, the hate is not as bad as the Raiders and Chiefs but it exists, like Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny. Denver and Oakland close out week one’s action on the Eastern side of San Francisco Bay in the second Monday night contest of the evening. While things were somewhat calm in Denver, the same could not be said in Oakland as Raiders management first suspended newly-signed WR Antonio Brown, then reinstated him, fined him and eventually gave him his walking papers, allowing New England to grab him.

The Silver and Black lead the series 63-52-2 and the Raiders have outscored their AFC West rivals 2,489-2,394 (which includes contests that took place in Los Angeles from 1982-1994). They split last season’s contests, each taking wins in their home facility.

Denver trailed 12-0 at the break at Broncos Stadium at Mile High in their week two contest, then erased that deficit and came away with the 20-19 come-from-behind win in that first meeting. Trailing 19-17 with 1:58 left in regulation, the Broncos used a 10-play, 62-yard drive that consumed 1:52 of clock and sent Denver fans home happy campers as Brian McManus connected on a 36-yard field goal. McManus, who kicked a 39-yarder and QB Case Keenum (222 yards, TD, sack, interception), running for a score from a yard out, pulled Denver to within one to make the contest close and eventually give Denver the win. Denver outrushed Oakland 168-92 with Broncos RB Phillip Lindsay leading the way with 107 yards, becoming the first undrafted rookie in NFL history with at least 100 scrimmage yards in each of his first two career games. Derek Carr threw for 288 yards with a TD and a sack, while Marshawn Lynch led Oakland with 65 yards and a rushing TD. Oakland was 3 of 10 on third down (0 for 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 32:56, while the Broncos kept the pigskin for 27:04, while going 8 of 16 and 1 of 1 on third and fourth downs.

Oakland would get their revenge on the Eastern side of San Francisco Bay in week 16 on Christmas Eve, as they would put lumps of coal and switches in Denver’s stocking, taking a 27-14 Monday night win at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. Although the Silver and Black led 17-0 at the half, Denver managed to make the contest close in the final 30 minutes of play, outscoring the Raiders 14-10 in that span. Dwayne Harris opened the scoring for the Raiders, returning a punt 99 yards to take the lead and the Raiders would never look back from that. Oakland outrushed Denver in the second contest 114-100, with Raiders RB Doug Martin leading the way with 107 yards and a TD. Carr threw for 167 yards but did not throw an interception, while Keenum threw for 202 yards with a pair of TDs and a pair of interceptions (both Keenum and Carr were sacked once). Oakland was 5 of 13 on third down and held on to the ball for 30:08, while the Broncos were 6 of 14 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth down and kept the ball for 29:52.

In the week two contest, while Denver was favored by 6, they only came away winning by one and both teams missed the 45 over/under, tallying 39 points. In the Christmas Eve week 16 affair, Oakland was the 2 1/2-point underdog but covered the spread, winnning by 13 but once again, both teams barely missed the over/under of 44 with 41 points.

Denver is 32-40-1 on Monday night and the Broncos went 0 for 2 in their meetings last year under the lights, while the Raiders are 39-29-1, spliting their two meetings in 2018. Oakland’s favored by 2 1/2 in the Monday nightcap on the West Coast and the over/under’s 42 1/2. With all the distractions the Raiders have had during the pre-season with Antonio Brown, it may be hard for them to focus on football and that will be a good thing for Broncos fans. Denver pulls the upset and covers the 2 1/2.

And there were two.

The Los Angeles Rams.

The New England Patriots.

The last two in the 2018 National Football League’s version of “Survivor.” While the other 30 teams are at home after having their torches put out, they are the last two standing. They’ve out-witted the other 30 teams, they’ve outlasted the other 30. Sunday will be a chance to see who can out-survive the other.

Both the Rams and Patriots started their seasons like everyone else, with OTAs, the draft, mini-camp, preseason and a 17-week schedule where they both played 16 games. At the end of the day in Atlanta, one team will be holding the Lombardi Trophy again, sort of like Raftiki holding baby Simba in “The Lion King.” The other team? They will be picked apart like a Thanksgiving Turkey, second-guessed by everyone that can draw a breath.

This Sunday is not just any Sunday. This is Super Bowl Sunday. This is the Sunday that some of these players have been dreaming about since they were kids, playing pretend football in the backyard and hoping that their time will come. Their time is here. It’s the final game on the 2018 NFL schedule and when the clock strikes :00, the confetti flies around and the on-field interviews are taking place, it will come to an end. No more regular season football until September 5th. The winner? They get to take home the Lombardi Trophy and each player will take home $118,000, which comes out to $29,500 a quarter and they get to pick last in the upcoming draft. As for the losing team? No trophy, they get to pick 31st and each player will get $59,000 (or $14,750 per quarter).

What else is at stake, you ask?

With a New England victory…
•The Patriots will have captured their sixth Super Bowl championship, tied with Pittsburgh (six) for most in NFL history.
•New England will have won its 37th postseason game, surpassing Pittsburgh (36) for the most all-time.
•Head coach Bill Belichick joins George Halas and Curly Lambeau as the only coaches ever to win six NFL championships.
•Quarterback Tom Brady has now won six Super Bowls, surpassing Pro Football Hall of Famer Charles Haley (five) for the most of any player. His Rams counterpart Jared Goff was 7 years old when Brady won his first Lombardi.

With a Los Angeles win…
•The Rams will celebrate the second Super Bowl victory in the history of their franchise (SB XXXIV) and their first in Los Angeles.
•At age 33, head coach Sean McVay becomes the youngest coach ever to win the Super Bowl. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin held the previous mark at age 36.
•Quarterback Jared Goff becomes the first quarterback selected number 1 overall to lead his team to a Super Bowl victory within his first three seasons.

Belichick and Brady will be making their ninth Super Bowl appearance together, the most NFL title games for any head coach and starting quarterback duo in league history. Belichick and Brady have won five Super Bowls together, the most by a head coach and starting quarterback combination.

Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay, who turns 33 years and 10 days old on Super Bowl Sunday, is the youngest head coach to lead his team to the Super Bowl. In each of the past two seasons under McVay, the Rams have ranked first or second in points per game. His counterpart on the other side of the field? Bill Belichick is 66 and turns 67 in April.

Rams quarterback Jared Goff, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft, is the first quarterback selected number 1 overall to reach the Super Bowl within his first three seasons. Four quarterbacks (Pro Football Hall of Famers Troy Aikman and John Elway, Drew Bledsoe and Eli Manning) each reached the Super Bowl in their fourth season.

Brady vs. Goff. Two QBs with a huge age difference led their teams to this point in time. Both clubs won their divisions, both were two seeds in their respective conferences and both won their last games on the road in overtime and both teams beat the top seeds. The bigger picture? Brady won his first Super Bowl the last time the two met in the post season. When Sunday’s game kicks off, Brady will be 42 years old, while Goff is 25 (Goff was seven years old when the Brady-Bilichick duo won their first Lombardi).

The Rams fought their way back against New Orleans in the NFC Championship game at the Mercedes Benz Superdome and came away with a 26-23 overtime win over Drew Brees and the Saints. Los Angeles trailed 13-10 at the half after the Saints rushed out to a 13-0 lead at the end of the first quarter as the Saints used a pair of Wil Lutz field goals and a Brees TD pass to TE Garrett Griffin to open the scoring in the contest. Los Angeles shut out the Saints in the second quarter, thanks to a 6-yard TD run by Todd Gurley III and a Greg Zuerlein field goal to tally their first points of the game. New Orleans would push the lead back to 10 with 8:34 left in the third when backup QB Taysom Hill and Brees connected on a 2-yard toss before the Rams would even things up when TE Tyler Higbee and Goff connected with 3:06 left in the third and Zuerlin booted a 24-yard field goal with 5:03 left in the contest.

New Orleans was not going quietly and got the ball back with 5:03 left in regulation and started the drive they thought would give them the win and there was some controversy in that drive when Saints WR Michael Thomas and Rams CB Michael Roby-Coleman collided on a pass attempt that many Saints fans and players thought was pass interference but was not called and the pass was ruled incomplete, much to the anger of Saints fans and head coach Sean Payton. (Roby-Coleman was eventually fined by the league for the helmet to helmet hit). The Saints had to settle for a 31-yard field goal from Lutz with 1:41 left before the Rams stormed back with 15 seconds left in regulation to re-tie the contest and send the contest into the extra period after Brees knelt the ball down. New Orleans would win the toss in the overtime and got the ball first in the overtime and kept the ball for only four plays, getting as close as their own 36-yard line when Brees was picked off by S John Johnson II inside Saints territory. The Rams wasted very little time or distance, using a 5-play, 15-yard drive that took 2:12 for them to set up a 57-yard field goal try. After the Saints burned a timeout to ice the kicker, Zeurlein connected on that 57-yard try to send the Rams into the Super Bowl.

The Rams outrushed New Orleans 77-48 and Goff threw for 297 yards and a TD with an interception and a sack, while Rams WR Brandon Cooks burned his former team for 107 yards on seven catches. Brees threw for 249 yards with the two TD tosses, while being sacked twice and throwing the interception that ended New Orleans’ hopes of coming to Atlanta. Los Angeles went 6 of 16 on third down (they were 1 for 1 on fourth down) and ruled the clock as they kept the ball for 32:36 (including the overtime), while the Saints went 6 for 14 on third down, keeping the ball for 30:41.

New England took a 14-0 lead with them to the intermission against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead in the AFC Championship game, only to see the Chiefs rally in the final 15 minutes of play and Brady and the Patriots would need overtime to take the 37-31 win on the road. Rookie RB Sony Michel and WR Phillip Dorsett would open the scoring for New England; Michel scoring on a 1-yard run early in the first quarter and Dorsett catching a 29-yard pass from Brady to take the 14-point lead at the break. Kansas City would respond in the third quarter as Mahomes and TE Travis Kelce connected on a 12-yard TD toss in the third to end New England’s bid for a shutout before Patriots K Stephen Gostkowski would push the lead back to 10 with a 47-yard field goal late in the quarter.

The Chiefs would then go to work in the final quarter of regulation, using a pair of Damien Williams TD runs to eventually take a 21-17 lead with 7:45 left in the contest. That lead would not last long as Michel scored on a 10-yard romp with 3:32 left. Kansas City then responded and took the lead back with 2:03 left when Williams scored from two yards out. The Chiefs’ lead did not last very long as New England’s Rex Burkhead gave his team a 31-28 lead back with 39 seconds left. Kansas City roared back again with 8 seconds left in regulation as Harrison Butker connected on a 39 yard field goal to tie things up at 31-31.

The Butker field goal would be the last time the Chiefs would see the ball as New England would win the coin toss in overtime and played ball control in the extra period, using a 13-play, 75-yard drive that used 4:52 of clock and sent Chiefs fans home in a less than good mood when Burkhead gave his team the win, scoring from two yards out to take the win. Michel rushed for 113 yards with the two TDs as the Patriots outrushed Kansas City 176-41. Brady threw for 348 yards with the TD toss and one interception (he was not sacked), while Mahomes threw for 295 yards with three TDs and four sacks but no interceptions. Kansas City, who saw their hopes dashed when DE Dee Ford lined up in the neutral zone, erasing a potential Brady interception in the final quarter, went 4 for 9 on third down and kept the ball for 20:53, while New England ruled the clock and kept the ball for 43:59 (including the 4:52 in overtime), while going 13 of 19 on third down, 1 for 2 on fourth down.

They met in Foxoboro in the 2016 season in week 13 and the Patriots were 26-10 winners at Gillette Stadium. New England scored their first 17 points of the contest uncontested before the Rams rallied in the final 30 minutes of play, outscoring New England 10-9. The Rams were held to 36 rushing yards, while New England tallied 133, with LeGarrett Blount leading the way with 88 yards and a rushing TD, while Brady threw for 269 yards without a sack or interception (Goff threw for 161 yards with a pair of interceptions and four sacks; both Goff and Brady each had a TD pass). The Rams were a dismal 1 of 12 on third down (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and they would keep the ball for 22:03, while New England ruled the clock and kept the ball for 37:57, while going 4 of 16 on third down, 2 of 2 on fourth down.

In the week 13 contest in Foxboro, the Pats covered the 13 1/2-point spread, winning by 16 but both clubs missed the 44 1/2 over/under as they combined for 36 points.

The Rams and Patriots met once in post-season play and that was in Super Bowl XXXVI, which New England won in the final seconds 20-17 in New Orleans, when the Rams were in St. Louis. That contest was the start of the Brady-Bill Belichick era as the Rams, who were in St. Louis, won the Lombardi Trophy the year before in Atlanta. New England erased a 3-0 first quarter deficit and took a 14-3 lead with them to the break in the Big Easy. The Pats then added an Adam Vinatieri field goal in the third quarter to lead by 14 before the Rams scored a pair of TDs in the fourth, one with Kurt Warner using his legs to score from two yards out, then Warner used his arm, connecting with WR Ricky Proehl with 90 seconds left in regulation. New England would use all of the 90 seconds that was left and made their way down the field, using a 9-play, 53-yard drive that ended with Vinatieri connecting on a 48-yard field goal as time expired. In picking up his first Super Bowl win, Brady threw for 145 yards and a TD with a sack but no interceptions, while Warner threw for 365 yards and the game-tying TD with three sacks and a pair of interceptions. New England outrushed the Rams 133-90 and went 2 for 11 on third down and kept the ball for 26:30 (including the final 90 seconds of the contest), while the Rams were 5 for 13 on third down and kept the ball for 33:30.

Yes, this is the last game of the year. When next Sunday rolls around, most of America will be forced to wait for baseball and watch golf, basketball or those gosh-awful Lifetime movies on Sunday. It’s also the last Sunday of “THE DRILL” until September. 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 58 last June and dates a 43-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?”)

New England, according to the boys and girls in Vegas, are favored by 2 1/2 with a 56 1/2 over/under. Both numbers make a lot of sense. For the winners, they get to go to Disney World and the Lombardi Trophy. As for the loser? Let’s just say that sports talk shows will be second-guessing them over and over and over until the draft. For the championship week, we went 1-1 and for the season, we are now 150-112. The end is nigh for the 2018 season. No more NFL until pre-season. It’s time to pick a winner, Jimmy, to paraphrase Robert Redford from “The Natural.” Jimmy’s from LA and he’s going with the Rams. We are too. Rams win and cover the 2 1/2.

Broadcast Information – 6:30 p.m. Eastern on CBS: Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson, Jay Feely, Gene Steratore; WESTWOOD ONE: Kevin Harlan, Kurt Warner, Mike Holmgren, Tony Boselli, Ed Werder; SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 82 (New England), 83 (Los Angeles Rams); XM: 88 (WestWood1), 226 (New England), 225 (Los Angeles Rams)

Referee: John Parry

Injury Report

New England – New England reports no injuries

Los Angeles Rams – Los Angeles Rams report no injuries

Weather: Game indoors; if roof is open, partly cloudy and 55 degrees.

Broadcast Information and Injury Report courtesy the National Football League, odds courtesy Don Best, weather information courtesy The Weather Channel. (Note: Weather information is based on kickoff local time)

It’s the second half of the 2018 season.

Draft? Done.

OTA’s? Check.

Mini Camps? Done.

Preseason? Done.

Regular Season? In the books.

It’s now time for the post-season.

This time, it’s different. It’s not you lose this week, you have a bye or your next game is the following Sunday. You lose… you’re done. You win… you move on.

12 teams are left standing after a 256-game season that will see eight teams look for new coaches (Cleveland, Green Bay, Denver, Miami, New York Jets, Tampa Bay, Arizona and Cincinnati). 20 teams will be getting ready for the Senior Bowl, the upcoming Draft and hiring new coaches and making roster moves. Those 20 teams cleared out their locker rooms this week and with the exception of those players that are going to the Pro Bowl, their vacation started Sunday.

As for the reamining 12? Their journey gets underway Saturday. The goal for those 12 teams? To be Super Bowl champs. One team wants to repeat (Philadelphia), while the other 11 want a Lombardi of their own. Three of the four contests are rematches from regular seaosn action (Los Angeles Chargers/Batlimore, Seattle/Dallas, Indianapolis/Houston).

Win. Advance.

Lose. Next game is next year.

TURNAROUND TEAMS & CONSISTENT WINNERS HIGHLIGHT PLAYOFF FIELD

There are seven new playoff teams in 2018: Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, the Los Angeles Chargers and Seattle.

Since 1990 – a streak of 29 consecutive seasons – at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before.

The teams since 1990 to make the playoffs a season after failing to qualify:

SEASON – PLAYOFF TEAMS NOT IN PREVIOUS SEASON’S PLAYOFFS
1990 – 7 (Cincinnati, Chicago, Kansas City, Los Angeles Raiders, Miami, New Orleans, Washington)
1991 – 5 (ATLANTA, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, New York Jets)
1992 – 6 (Miami, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Diego, San Francisco)
1993 – 5 (Denver, Detroit, Green Bay, Los Angeles Raiders, New York Giants)
1994 – 5 (Chicago, Cleveland, Miami, New England, San Diego)
1995 – 4 (Atlanta, Buffalo, Indianapolis, Philadelphia)
1996 – 5 (Carolina, Denver, Jacksonville, Minnesota, New England)
1997 – 5 (Detroit, Kansas City, Miami, New York Giants, Tampa Bay)
1998 – 5 (Arizona, ATLANTA, Buffalo, Dallas, New York Jets)
1999 – 7 (Detroit, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Seattle, Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Washington)
2000 – 6 (Baltimore, Denver, New Orleans, New York Giants, Oakland, Philadelphia)
2001 – 6 (Chicago, Green Bay, New England, New York Jets, Pittsburgh, San Francisco)
2002 – 5 (ATLANTA, Cleveland, Indianapolis, New York Giants, Tennessee)
2003 – 8 (Baltimore, Carolina, Dallas, Denver, Kansas City, New England, St. Louis, Seattle)
2004 – 5 (ATLANTA, Minnesota, New York Jets, Pittsburgh, San Diego)
2005 – 7 (Carolina, Chicago, Cincinnati, Jacksonville, New York Giants, Tampa Bay, Washington)
2006 – 7 (Baltimore, Dallas, Kansas City, New Orleans, New York Jets, Philadelphia, San Diego)
2007 – 6 (Green Bay, Jacksonville, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Washington)
2008 – 7 (Arizona, ATLANTA, Baltimore, Carolina, Miami, Minnesota, Philadelphia)
2009 – 6 (Cincinnati, Dallas, Green Bay, New England, New Orleans, New York Jets)
2010 – 5 (ATLANTA, Chicago, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Seattle)
2011 – 6 (Cincinnati, Denver, Detroit, Houston, New York Giants, San Francisco)
2012 – 4 (Indianapolis, Minnesota, Seattle, Washington)
2013 – 5 (Carolina, Kansas City, New Orleans, Philadelphia, San Diego)
2014 – 5 (Arizona, Baltimore, Dallas, Detroit, Pittsburgh)
2015 – 4 (Houston, Kansas City, Minnesota, Washington)
2016 – 6 (ATLANTA, Dallas, Detroit, Miami, New York Giants, Oakland)
2017 – 8 (Buffalo, Carolina, Jacksonville, Los Angeles Rams, Minnesota, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Tennessee)
2018 – 7 (Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles Chargers, Seattle)

Four teams won division titles – Baltimore (AFC North), Chicago (NFC North), Dallas (NFC East) and Houston (AFC South) – after missing the playoffs last season.

The divisions with new champions in 2018:
AFC SOUTH – Houston (2018), Jacksonville (2017)
AFC NORTH – Baltimore (2018), Pittsburgh (2017)
NFC EAST – Dallas (2018), Philadelphia (2017)
NFC NORTH – Chicago (2018), Minnesota (2017)

In the 17 seasons since realignment, 29 of the 32 NFL teams (91 percent) have won a division title at least once.

How the 2018 playoff teams have fared in the 17 seasons since realignment in 2002

TEAM (DIVISION TITLES/PLAYOFF BERTHS)

New England (15/15)
Indianapolis (9/13)
Seattle (8/12)
Philadelphia (7/10)
Baltimore (5/9)
Dallas (5/7)
Houston (5/5)
Kansas City (5/8)
Los Angeles Chargers (5/7)
New Orleans (5/7)
Chicago (4/4)
Los Angeles Rams (3/4)

The 2018 field also showcases teams that have enjoyed recent postseason success. Since realignment in 2002, the New England Patriots have been to the playoffs 15 times, which is the most in the NFL.

The 2018 playoff teams with the most postseason appearances since 2002 (includes 2018):

TEAM – POSTSEASON APPEARANCES
New England – 15
Indianapolis – 13
Seattle – 12
Philadelphia – 10
Baltimore – 9

Seven of this season’s 12 playoff teams have won at least one Super Bowl since 1999, capturing 12 of the past 19 Vince Lombardi Trophies. Those teams are the Patriots (XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX, XLIX, LI), Ravens (XXXV, XLVII), Colts (XLI), Eagles (LII), Rams (XXXIV), Saints (XLIV) and Seahawks (XLVIII).

SUPER BOWL (SEASON) – WINNER
XXXIV (1999) – St. Louis Rams*
XXXV (2000) – Baltimore*
XXXVI (2001) – New England*
XXXVII (2002) – Tampa Bays
XXXVIII (2003) – New England*
XXXIX (2004)New England*
XL (2005) – Pittsburgh
XLI (2006) – Indianapolis*
XLII (2007) – New York Giants
XLIII (2008) – Pittsburgh
XLIV (2009) – New Orleans*
XLV (2010) – Green Bay
XLVI (2011) – New York Giants
XLVII (2012) – Baltimore*
XLVIII (2013) – Seattle*
XLIX (2014) – New England*
50 (2015) – Denver
LI (2016) – New England*
LII (2017) – Philadelphia*
*In 2018 postseason

The Baltimore Ravens (.652) and New England Patriots (.630) rank first and second all-time in postseason winning percentage.

The 12 playoff teams and their postseason records:

TEAM (W-L, PCT.)
Baltimore  (15-8, .652)
New England (34-20, .630)
Dallas (34-27, .557)
Seattle (16-15, .516)
Philadelphia (22-21, .512)
Indianapolis (22-23, .489)
Chicago (17-18, .486)
New Orleans (8-10, .444)
Los Angeles Rams (19-25, .432)
Houston (3-4, .429)
Los Angeles Chargers (11-17, .393)
Kansas City (9-18, .333)

YOUTH & CONSISTENCY HIGHLIGHT THE PLAYOFF QUARTERBACKS

The 2018 postseason is filled with young stars on the rise and veterans at the top of their game at the quarterback position.

Three quarterbacks – Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson, Chicago’s Mitchell Trubisky and Houston’s DeShaun Watson – are expected to make their first career postseason starts on Wild Card Weekend while Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes, who led the league with 50 touchdown passes, will make his postseason debut in the AFC Divisional round.

New England quarterback Tom Brady, who has led the Patriots to 10 consecutive division titles and five Super Bowl championships, is the postseason’s all-time leader in games played (37), passing yards (10,226) and touchdown passes (71). Brady and Philadelphia quarterback Nick Foles, who will make his fifth career postseason start, combined for an NFL-record 874 pass yards in Super Bowl LII last season. Foles had a 115.7 passer rating during the 2017 playoffs to help lead the Eagles to their first Super Bowl title in franchise history.

New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees, a veteran of 18 NFL seasons, will make his 14th postseason start in the NFC Divisional round after leading the league with an NFL-record 74.4 completion percentage and 115.7 passer rating in 2018. Los Angeles Chargers Philip Rivers, in his 15th season, registered his 10th career 4,000-passing yard season and will make his 10th career postseason appearance.

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff and Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott, both selected by their teams in the 2016 NFL Draft, have led their franchises to division titles in two of their first three NFL seasons and each will be making their second career postseason start.

Both members of the 2012 NFL Draft class, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck will be making his seventh career postseason start while Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who has led Seattle to the playoffs in six of his seven seasons, will be making his 13th career postseason start on Wild Card Weekend. Wilson led Seattle to a Super Bowl XLVIII championship in 2013 and a Super Bowl XLIX appearance in 2014.

A by-the-numbers look at the 12 quarterbacks in the 2018 postseason:

Rookie or 2nd-year (4): Jackson, BAL; Mahomes, KC; Trubisky, CHI; Watson, HOU
1st-round Draft picks (7): Goff, LAR; Jackson, BAL; Luck, IND; Mahomes, KC; Rivers, LAC; Trubisky, CHI; Watson, HOU
Number 1 overall picks (2): Goff, LAR; Luck, IND (2012)
Drafted No. 75 overall or later or undrafted (4): Brady, NE; Foles, PHI; Prescott, DAL; Wilson, SEA
30 years old or younger (9): Foles, PHI; Goff, LAR; Jackson, BAL; Luck, IND; Mahomes, KC; Prescott, DAL; Trubisky, CHI; Watson, HOU; Wilson, SEA
35 years old or older (3): Brady, NE; Brees, NO; Rivers, LAC

BEST NFL PLAYOFF PERFORMANCES (Single postseason)

PASSING YARDS
PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON; COMPLETIONS/ATTEMPTS – YARDS; TD/INT)
Eli Manning, New York Giants (2011; 106/163 – 1,219; 9/1)
Kurt Warner, Arizona (2008; 92/135 – 1,147; 11/3)
Joe Flacco, Baltimore (2012; 73/126 – 1,140; 11/0)
Tom Brady, New England (2016; 93/142 – 1,137; 7/3)
Tom Brady, New England (2017; 89/139 – 1,132; 8/0)

RUSHING YARDS
PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON; ATTEMPTS – YARDS/TD)
John Riggins, Washington (1982; 136 – 610/4)
Terrell Davis, Denver (1997; 112 – 581/8)
Terrell Davis, Denver (1998; 78 – 468/3)
Marcus Allen, Los Angeles Raiders (1983; 58 – 466/4)
Eddie George, Tennessee (1999; 108 – 449/3)

RECEIVING YARDS
PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON; RECEPTIONS – YARDS/TD)
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona (2008; 30 – 546/7)
Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants (2011; 28 – 444/4)
Jerry Rice, San Francisco (1988; 21 – 409/6)
Steve Smith, Sr., Carolina (2003; 18 – 404/3)
Charlie Brown, Washington (1983; 14 – 401/1)

RECEPTIONS
PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON; RECEPTIONS – YARDS/TD)
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona (2008; 30 – 546/7)
Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants (2011; 28 – 444/4)
Demaryius Thomas, Denver (2013; 28 – 306/3)
Steve Smith, Sr., Carolina (2015; 27 – 335/3)
Wes Welker, New England (2007; 27 – 213/2)

SCRIMMAGE TOUCHDOWNS
PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON; TOTAL TD – RUSHING TD/RECIEVING TD)
Terrell Davis, Denver (1997; 8 – 8/0)
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona (2008; 7 – 0/7)
Larry Csonka, Miami (1973; 6 – 6/0)
Franco Harris, Pittsburgh (1974; 6 – 6/0)
John Riggins, Washington (1983; 6 – 6/0)
Jerry Rice, San Francisco (1988; 6 – 0/6)
Gerald Riggs. Washington (1991; 6 – 6/0)
Ricky Watters. San Francisco (1993; 6 – 6/0)
Emmitt Smith, Dallas (1995; 6 – 6/0)

SEVEN FROM SUNDAY IN WEEK 17

•NEW PLAYOFF TEAMS: Seven of the 11 teams to have qualified for the playoffs are new to the postseason in 2018: Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles Chargers, Seattle. and Indianapolis. Since 1990 – a streak of 29 consecutive seasons – at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before.

WORST-TO-FIRST: Both the Chicago Bears (NFC North) and Houston Texans (AFC South) completed “worst-to-first” turnarounds and at least one team has won its division the season after finishing in or tied for last place in 15 of the past 16 seasons.

PLAYOFF SEEDING: New Orleans won the NFC South and finished as the NFC’s 1 seed. The Saints will have home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

The Los Angeles Rams, who defeated San Francisco 48-32 and won the NFC West, are the 2 seed and clinched a first-round bye in the NFC playoffs.

Chicago, who defeated Minnesota 24-10 and won the NFC North, are the 3 seed and will host Philadelphia in the Wild Card round. Philadelphia defeated Washington, 24-0 and combined with Minnesota’s loss to Chicago, clinched a playoff berth for the second consecutive season.

Dallas, who defeated the New York Giants 36-35 and won the NFC East in the Meadowlands, are the 4 seed and will host Seattle in the Wild Card round.

In the AFC, Kansas City defeated Oakland 35-3 and clinched the AFC West division title and home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.

New England defeated the New York Jets 38-3, are the AFC’s 2 seed and clinched a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs.

Houston defeated Jacksonville 20-3 and are the 3 seed, clinched the AFC South division title and will host a game on Wild Card weekend.

The Texans completed a “worst-to-first” turnaround after finishing tied for last place in the division in 2017. Houston is the sixth team in NFL history to make the postseason after beginning the season 0-3 and joined the 1992 San Diego Chargers as the only teams in league annals to win their division following an 0-3 start to a season.

Baltimore defeated Cleveland, 26-24 and clinched the AFC North division title for the first time since 2012. Baltimore, the AFC’s 4 seed, will host the Los Angeles Chargers in the Wild Card round.

•Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes passed for 281 yards and two touchdowns with one interception for a 109.9 rating in the Chiefs’ Week 17 win over Oakland at Arrowhead. Mahomes has 50 touchdown passes this season and joined Peyton Manning (55 touchdown passes in 2013) and Tom Brady (50 in 2007) as the only quarterbacks with at least 50 touchdown passes in a single season in NFL history.

Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill had five receptions for 101 yards and two touchdowns, including a 67-yard touchdown reception, against Oakland and had a 15-yard touchdown run. Hill has 16 career touchdowns of at least 50 yards and tied Pro Football Hall of Famer Gale Sayers (16) for the most touchdowns of at least 50 yards by a player in his first three seasons. Hill has 1,479 receiving yards in 2018 and surpassed Derrick Alexander (1,391 receiving yards in 2000) for the most receiving yards in a single season in franchise history.

•New England quarterback Tom Brady  completed 24 of 33 attempts (72.7 percent) for 250 yards and four touchdowns with zero interceptions for a 133.8 passer rating in the Patriots’ Week 17 win against the New York Jets.

Brady has 6,004 career regular-season completions and is the fourth player in NFL history with at least 6,000 career regular-season completions, joining Drew Brees (6,586), Pro Football Hall of Famer Brett Farve (6,300) and Peyton Manning (6,125).

•Cleveland rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield passed for 376 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions in the Browns’ Week 17 loss at Baltimore.

Mayfield has 27 touchdown passes this season, surpassing Peyton Manning (26 touchdown passes in 1998) and Russell Wilson (26 in 2012) for the most touchdown passes by a rookie quarterback in the common draft era.

•San Francisco tight end George Kittle had nine receptions for 149 yards and one touchdown in the 49ers’ Week 17 loss.

Kittle, who has 1,377 receiving yards this season, and Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce (1,336 receiving yards in 2018) both surpassed Rob Gronkowski (1,327 in 2011) for the most receiving yards by a tight end in a single season in NFL history.

•Houston defensive end J.J. Watt had 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble in the Texans’ Week 17 win over Jacksonville. Watt has 16 sacks in 2018 and joins Pro Football Hall of Famer Reggie White (five seasons) as the only players since 1982 with four seasons of at least 15 sacks.

•Three non-quarterbacks – Atlanta wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, Detroit kicker Matt Prater and Miami wide receiver Kenny Stills – threw touchdown passes in Week 17. In total, there have been 13 touchdown passes thrown by non-quarterbacks in 2018, the most in a single-season since 1983 (15 touchdowns). Quarterbacks Ryan Tannehill of the Miami Dolphins and Atlanta’s Matt Ryan both had touchdown catches in Week 17, marking the first week in the Super Bowl era in which multiple quarterbacks recorded a touchdown reception.

•Other notable performances from last Sunday include:

Eagles quarterback NICK FOLES recorded 25 consecutive completions against Washington, tied with Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (Week 12 vs. Arizona) for the most by a quarterback in a single game in NFL history.

◦New York Giants rookie running back Saquon Barkley had 142 scrimmage yards (109 rushing, 33 receiving) and one rushing touchdown in the Giants’ Week 17 loss.

Barkley has 2,028 scrimmage yards and joins Pro Football Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson (2,212 scrimmage yards in 1983) and Edgerrin James (2,139 in 1999) as the only rookies with at least 2,000 scrimmage yards in NFL history.

Barkley, who had four catches against the Cowboys, has 91 receptions this season and surpassed Reggie Bush (88 catches in 2006) for the most receptions by a rookie running back in league annals.

Buffalo rookie quarterback Josh Allen passed for 224 yards with three touchdowns and rushed for 95 yards and two touchdowns in the Bills’ 42-17 win against Miami. Allen is the second rookie quarterback in NFL history to record three touchdowns passes and two rushing touchdowns in the same game, joining Miami’s David Woodley, who had three touchdown passes and two rushing touchdowns against the Los Angeles Rams on November 9, 1980.

Allen has eight rushing touchdowns this season and joins Cam Newton, who had 14 rushing touchdowns in 2011, as the only rookie quarterbacks in the Super Bowl era with at least eight rushing touchdowns.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN WILD CARD WEEKEND

NEW YEAR, NEW TEAMS: Chicago (12-4, NFC North) and Houston (11-5, AFC South) both completed “worst-to-first” turnarounds and at least one team has won its division the season after finishing in or tied for last place in 15 of the past 16 seasons. 2018 marked the second consecutive season that two teams went from worst to first – something that has never happened before in any other major US sport.

The teams to go from “worst-to-first” in their divisions and appear in the Super Bowl since 2003:

SEASON: TEAM – RECORD/PRIOR SEASON RECORD (ADVANCED TO)
2003: Carolina –  11-5/7-9 (Super Bowl XXXVIII)
2009: New Orleans – 13-3/8-8 (Won Super Bowl XLIV)
2017: Philadelphia – 13-3/7-9 (Won Super Bowl LII)
2018: Chicago – 12-4/5-11 (???)
2018: Houston – 11-5/4-12 (???)*

*Tied for last place

This season, seven teams qualified for the playoffs after missing the postseason in 2017 – Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, the Los Angeles Chargers and Seattle – and all seven will be in action on Wild Card Weekend. Since the 12-team playoff format was adopted in 1990 – a streak of 29 consecutive seasons – at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before.

FROM WILD CARD TO SUPER BOWL: Winners in the Wild Card round have won the Super Bowl nine times. At least one Super Bowl participant in six of the past 13 seasons played in a Wild Card game.

The Wild Card round participants to win the Super Bowl:

SEASON: TEAM – SUPER BOWL RESULT
1980: Oakland – Defeated Philadelphia in Super Bowl XV, 27-10
1997: Denver – Defeated Green Bay in Super Bowl XXXII, 31-24
2000: Baltimore – Defeated New York Giants in Super Bowl XXXV, 34-7
2005: Pittsburgh – Defeated Seattle in Super Bowl XL, 21-10
2006: Indianapolis – Defeated Chicago in Super Bowl XLI, 29-17
2007: New York Giants – Defeated New England in Super Bowl XLII, 17-14
2010: Green Bay – Defeated Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XLV, 31-25
2011; New York Giants – Defeated New England in Super Bowl XLVI, 21-17
2012: Baltimore – Defeated San Francisco in Super Bowl XLVII, 34-31

WINNING WAYS: Baltimore and Dallas will each be playing on Wild Card Weekend and both will be at home.

The Cowboys (34) are tied with Green Bay (34) and New England (34), the number 2 overall seed in the AFC, for the second-most postseason wins all-time. Only Pittsburgh (36) has more postseason wins in league history.

Wild Card Weekend marks the 62nd playoff game in the history of the Dallas Cowboys and surpasses Pittsburgh (61) for the most postseason games played by a franchise in league annals.

The teams with the most postseason wins in NFL history:

TEAM: W-L, PCT. (SUPER BOWL WINS)
Pittsburgh: 36-25, .590 (6)
Dallas: 34-27, .557 (5)*
Green Bay: 34-22, .607 (4)
New England: 34-20, .630 (5)**
San Francisco: 30-20, .600 (5)
*Plays this weekend
**First-round bye

Baltimore (.652) and New England (.630) own the top two winning percentages in postseason history while Dallas (.557) ranks seventh.

The teams with the highest postseason winning percentage in NFL history:

TEAM: W-L, PCT. (SUPER BOWL WINS)
Baltimore: 15-8, .652 (2)*
New England: 34-20, .630 (5)**
Green Bay: 34-22, .607 (4)
San Francisco: 30-20, .600 (5)
Pittsburgh: 36-25, .590 (6)
Oakland: 25-19, .568 (3)
Dallas: 34-27, .557 (5)*
*Plays this weekend
**First-round bye

POSTSEASON DEBUTS: Several teams will feature a quarterback slated to make his first career postseason start. Among those set to debut on Wild Card Weekend are Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson, Chicago’s Mitchell Trubisky and Houston’s DeShaun Watson.

The players with the most passing yards in their first career postseason start:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON, ROUND – PASSING YARDS)
Kelly Holcomb, Cleveland (2002, AFC Wild Card – 429)
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay (2009, NFC Wild Card – 423)
Randall Cunningham, Philadelphia (1988, NFC Divisional – 407)
Kurt Warner, St. Louis Rams (1999, NFC Divisional – 391)^
Neil Lomax, St. Louis Cardinals (1982, NFC Wild Card – 385)
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

TOP DEFENSE: The Chicago Bears defense led the league with the fewest points allowed per game (17.7) this season. In three of the past four seasons, the teams with the top regular-season scoring defense have advanced to the Super Bowl.

The teams with the top scoring defense in the regular season to advance to the Super Bowl since 2002:

SEASON: TEAM, SUPER BOWL RESULT
2002: Tampa Bay, Defeated Oakland in Super Bowl XXXVII, 48-21
2003: New England, Defeated Carolina in Super Bowl XXXVIII, 32-29
2008: Pittsburgh, Defeated Arizona in Super Bowl XLIII, 27-23
2010: Pittsburgh, Lost to Green Bay in Super Bowl XLV, 31-25
2013: Seattle, Defeated Denver in Super Bowl XLVIII, 43-8
2014: Seattle, Lost to New England in Super Bowl XLIX, 28-24
2016: New England, Defeated ATLANTA in Super Bowl LI, 34-28
2018: Chicago, ???

FANTASTIC FOLES: Philadelphia quarterback Nick Foles passed for 352 yards and three touchdowns in the 2017 NFC Championship Game against Minnesota and had 373 passing yards with three touchdowns in Super Bowl LII against New England to help lead the Eagles to the first Super Bowl championship in franchise history.

With 300 passing yards and three touchdown passes on Sunday at Chicago at 4:40 p.m. on NBC, Foles would become the second quarterback in NFL history to record at least 300 passing yards and three touchdown passes in three consecutive postseason games.

The players with the most consecutive postseason games with at least 300 passing yards and three touchdown passes in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (CONSECUTIVE GAMES WITH 300+ PASS YARDS & 3+ TD PASSES
Matt Ryan, ATLANTA (3)
Nick Foles, Philadelphia (2)*
*Active streak

RATING RIVERS: Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers will make his 10th career playoff start on Wild Card Weekend.

Rivers, who has recorded a passer rating of 115 or higher in each of his past two postseason starts and plays at Baltimore on Sunday at 1:05 p.m. on CBS, can become the fourth quarterback to record three consecutive postseason games with a passer rating of 115 or higher.

The players with the most consecutive postseason games with a passer rating of 115 or higher in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (CONSECUTIVE GAMES WITH 115+ PASSER RATING)
Joe Montana, San Francisco (5)^
Matt Ryan, ATLANTA (3)
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay (3)
Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers (2)*
^Pro Football Hall of Famer
*Active streak
After an exciting finish to the regular season, the NFL’s second season has arrived.

The NFL postseason begins with four games on Wild Card Weekend.

AFC – Indianapolis at Houston, 4:35 p.m. Saturday on ESPN/ABC
NFC – Seattle at Dallas, 8:15 p.m. Saturday on FOX
AFC – Los Angeles Chargers at Baltimore, 1:05 p.m. Sunday on CBS
NFC – Philadelphia at Chicago, 4:40 p.m. on NBC

Week 17 came right down to the wire. Sunday’s excitement was due in part to having 16 divisional games played on the season’s final day, a tradition instituted in 2010. Three playoff spots and three divisions titles – the AFC West, AFC North and AFC South – were decided on the final day of the season.

The final 12 teams are set:

AFC

1. Kansas City (12-4), AFC West champion
2. New England (11-5), AFC East champion
3. Houston (11-5), AFC South champion
4. Baltimore (10-6), AFC North champion
5. Los Angeles Chargers (12-4)
6. Indianapolis (10-6)

NFC
1. New Orleans (13-3), NFC South champion
2. Los Angeles Rams (13-3), NFC West champion
3. Chicago (12-4), NFC North champion
4. Dallas (10-6), NFC East champion
5. Seattle (10-6)
6. Philadelphia (9-7)

The NFL playoffs, which conclude on February 3 with Super Bowl LIII at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta at 6:30 p.m. on CBS, begin this Saturday and Sunday with Wild Card Weekend.

Both Chicagos (NFC North) and Houston (AFC South) completed “worst-to-first” turnarounds and at least one team has won its division the season after finishing in or tied for last place in 15 of the past 16 seasons.

With Chicago and Houston earning division titles, 2018 marked the second consecutive season that two teams went from worst to first (Jacksonville and Philadelphia in 2017) – something that has never happened in any other major US sport.

Seven of the 12 playoff teams are new to the postseason in 2018: Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, the Los Angeles Chagers and Seattle. Since 1990 – a streak of 29 consecutive seasons – at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before.

Both the Bears (NFC North) and Texans (AFC South) completed “worst-to-first” turnarounds and at least one team has won its division the season after finishing in or tied for last place in 15 of the past 16 seasons. With Chicago and Houston earning division titles, 2018 marked the second consecutive season that two teams went from worst to first (Jacksonville and Philadelphia in 2017) – something that has never happened in any other major US sport.

The teams to go from “worst-to-first” in their divisions since 2003:

SEASON – TEAM (RECORD/PRIOR SEASON RECORD, ADVANCED TO)
2003 – Carolina (11-5/7-9, Super Bowl XXXVIII)
2003 – Kansas City (13-3/8-8, AFC Divisonal Playoffs)*
2004 – ATLANTA (11-5/5-11, NFC Championship)
2004 – San Diego (12-4/4-12, AFC Wild Card Playoffs)*
2005 – Chicago (11-5/5-11, NFC Divisonal Playoffs)
2005 – Tampa Bay (11-5/5-11, NFC Wild Card Playoffs)
2006 – Baltimore (13-3/6-10, AFC Divisonal Playoffs)*
2006 – New Orleans (10-6/3-13, NFC Championship)
2006 – Philadelphia (10-6/6-10, NFC Divisonal Playoffs)
2007 – Tampa Bay (9-7/4-12, NFC Wild Card Playoffs)
2008 – Miami (11-5/1-15, AFC Wild Card Playoffs)
2009 – New Orleans (13-3/8-8, Won Super Bowl XLIV)
2010 – Kansas City (10-6/4-12, AFC Wild Card Playoffs)
2011 – Denver (8-8/4-12, AFC Divisional Playoffs)
2011 – Houston (10-6/6-10, AFC Divisional Playoffs)*
2012 – Washington (10-6/5-11, NFC Wild Card Playoffs)
2013 – Carolina (12-4/7-9, NFC Divisonal Playoffs)*
2013 – Philadelphia (10-6/4-12, NFC Wild Card Playoffs)
2015 – Washington (9-7/4-12, NFC Wild Card Playoffs)
2016 – Dallas (13-3/4-12, NFC Divisional Playoffs)
2017 – Jacksonville (10-6/3-13, AFC Championship)
2017 – Philadelphia (13-3/7-9, Won Super Bowl LII)
2018 – Chicago (12-4/5-11, ???)
2018 – Houston (11-5/4-12, ???)*
*Tied for last place

A look at the four games on Wild Card Weekend:

Indianapolis (10-6) at Houston (11-5), Saturday at 4:35 p.m. on ESPN/ABC

•This is the first postseason meeting between the AFC South division rivals. The Texans and Colts split the season series in 2018, with Houston winning 37-34 in overtime in Week 4 and Indianapolis taking the finale 24-21 in Week 14.

•The Colts have qualified for the postseason for the first time since 2014. Indianapolis had two players selected to the 2019 Pro Bowl: tight end Eric Ebron and rookie guard Quenton Nelson.

•Houston won the AFC South for the third time in the past four seasons (2015 and 2016). Houston had four players selected to the 2019 Pro Bowl: linebacker Jadeveon Clowney, wide receiver De Andre Hopkins, linebacker Benardrick McKinney and defensive end J.J. Watt.

Seattle (10-6) at Dallas (10-6), Saturday at 8:15 p.m. on FOX

•This is the second postseason meeting between the two teams. The Seahawks defeated Dallas 21-20 in their 2006 NFC Wild Card meeting (January 6, 2007). This season, Seattle won 24-13 in their Week 3 meeting at CenturyLink Field.

•Seattle returns to the playoffs for the first time since 2016 and have advanced to the postseason in seven of head coach Pete Carroll’s nine seasons with the team. Seattle had two players selected to the 2019 Pro Bowl: rookie punter Michael Dickson and linebacker Bobby Wagner.

•Dallas is back in the postseason after capturing the NFC East title for the first time since 2016. Dallas had five players selected to the 2019 Pro Bowl, tied with Chicago and New Orleans for the most in the NFC: running back Ezekiel Elliott, cornerback Byron Jones, defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, guard Zack Martin and tackle Tyron Smith.

Los Angeles Chargers (12-4) at Baltimore (10-6) Sunday at 1:05 p.m. on CBS

•This is the first postseason meeting between the two teams.

•Baltimore has qualified for the postseason for the first time since 2014 and won the AFC North for the first time since 2012, when they were victorious in Super Bowl XLVII. The Ravens had three players selected to the 2019 Pro Bowl: linebacker C.J. Mosley, safety Eric Weddle and guard Marshal Yanda.

•The Chargers have advanced to the postseason for the first time since 2013. Los Angeles had a league-best seven players selected to the 2019 Pro Bowl: wide receiver Keenan Allen, running back Melvin Gordon, defensive end Melvin Ingram, rookie safety Derwin James, special teamer Adrian Phillips, center Mike Pouncey and quarterback Philip Rivers.

Philadelphia (9-7) at Chicago (12-4), Sunday at 4:40 p.m. on NBC

•The teams will meet in the postseason for the fourth time, with Philadelphia holding a 2-1 edge. In their most recent postseason matchup, the Eagles won 33-19 in Chicago in the 2001 NFC Divisional Playoffs (January 19, 2002). The Bears lead the all-time series 30-13-1, including the postseason.

•Philadelphia, the defending Super Bowl champions, are in the postseason for consecutive years for the first time since the 2009-10 seasons and are seeking to become the first repeat Super Bowl champions since the 2003-04 New England Patriots. Philadelphia had three players selected to the 2019 Pro Bowl: guard BRANDON BROOKS, defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and tight end Zach Ertz.

•Chicago has qualified for the postseason and claimed the NFC North division title for the first time since 2010. Chicago had five players selected to the 2019 Pro Bowl, tied with Dallas and New Orleans for the most in the NFC: return specialist Tarik Cohen, cornerback Kyle Fuller, defensive tackle Akiem Hicks, safety Eddie Jackson and linebacker Khalil Mack.

New teams making the playoffs, terrific turnarounds, consistent teams excelling again, records falling and young players making their mark. The 2018 season had it all.

Competitiveness highlighted the 2018 regular-season as 73 games were decided by three points or fewer, the most in a season in NFL history while 68% of all games played this season (175 of 256) were within one score (eight points) in the fourth quarter, tied for the third-most in a season in NFL history. On 71 occasions, teams came back to win or tie after trailing in the fourth quarter or overtime – an average of 4.2 teams per week – tied for second-most in a season in NFL history.

Week 17 came down to the wire, as three playoff spots and three divisions titles – the AFC West, AFC North and AFC South – were decided on the final day of the season. Sunday’s excitement was due in part to having 16 divisional games played on the season’s final day, a tradition instituted in 2010.

Seven of the 12 playoff teams are new to the postseason in 2018: Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, the Los Angeles Chargers and Seattle. Since 1990 – a streak of 29 consecutive seasons – at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before.

The seasons with at least seven new playoff teams since 1990:

SEASON – PLAYOFF TEAMS NOT IN PREVIOUS SEASON’S PLAYOFFS
1990 – 7 (Cincinnati, Chicago, Kansas City, Los Angeles Raiders, Miami, New Orleans, Washington)
1999 – 7 (Detroit, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Seattle, Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Washington)
2003 – 8 (Baltimore, Carolina, Dallas, Denver, Kansas City, New England, St. Louis, Seattle)
2005 – 7 (Carolina, Chicago, Cincinnati, Jacksonville, New York Giants, Tampa Bay, Washington)
2006 – 7 (Baltimore, Dallas, Kansas City, New Orleans, New York Jets, Philadelphia, San Diego)
2008 – 7 (Arizona, ATLANTA, Baltimore, Carolina, Miami, Minnesota, Philadelphia)
2017 – 8 (Buffalo, Carolina, Jacksonville, Los Angeles Rams, Minnesota, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Tennessee)
2018 – 7 (Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles Chargers, Seattle)

Both Chicago (NFC North) and Houston (AFC South) completed “worst-to-first” turnarounds and at least one team has won its division the season after finishing in or tied for last place in 15 of the past 16 seasons.

With Chicago and Houston earning division titles, 2018 marked the second consecutive season that two teams went from worst to first (Jacksonville and Philadelphia in 2017) – something that has never happened in any other major US sport.

OFFENSIVE TRENDS: The 2018 season will go down as one of the most prolific offensive seasons in league history.

Teams combined to score 1,371 total touchdowns, the most in a single season in NFL history, while the 11,952 total points scored are the second-most in league annals (11,985 in 2013).

MOST TOUCHDOWNS, NFL HISTORY
SEASON – TOUCHDOWNS
2018 – 1,371
2013 – 1,338
2015 – 1,318
MOST TOTAL POINTS, NFL HISTORY
SEASON – TOTAL POINTS
2013 – 11,985
2018 – 11,952
2015 – 11,680

With three teams – Kansas City (35.3 points per game), the Los Angeles Rams (32.9) and New Orleans (31.5) – averaging at least 30 points per game, the 2018 season joined 1948, 1949 and 2011 as seasons with at least three teams averaging at least 30 points per game.

The Chiefs, with 565 points scored, finished as the third-highest scoring team in league annals, trailing only the 2013 Denver Broncos (606 points scored) and 2007 New England Patriots (589).

PROLIFIC PASSERS: In 2018, league-wide passing numbers trended at a record pace, as the marks for passer rating (92.9), completion percentage (64.9 percent) and touchdown passes (847) were all the highest for a single season in NFL history, while the total completions (11,462) were the third-highest in a single season in league annals.

SEASON – RATING
2018 – 92.9
2015 – 90.2
2016 – 89.3

SEASON – COMPLETION PCT.
2018 – 64.9
2016 – 63.0
2015 – 63.0

SEASON – TD PASSES
2018 – 847
2015 – 842
2014 – 807

SEASON – COMPLETIONS
2015 – 11,527
2016 – 11,526
2018 – 11,462

Twelve quarterbacks passed for at least 4,000 yards, including five with at least 4,500 passing yards, in 2018: Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger (5,129), Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes (5,097), Atlanta’s Matt Ryan (4,924), Los Angeles Rams’ Jared Goff (4,688) and Indianapolis’ Andrew LuckK (4,593).

With 12 quarterbacks reaching 4,000 passing yards, the 2018 season tied the 2015 season for the second-most quarterbacks with at least 4,000 passing yards.

The seasons with the most players with at least 4,000 passing yards in NFL history:

SEASON – PLAYERS WITH 4,000 PASSING YARDS
2016 – 13
2018 – 12
2015 – 12
2014 – 11
2012 – 11

Nine quarterbacks threw at least 30 touchdown passes this season, including four with at least 35 touchdown passes: Mahomes (50), Luck (39), Ryan (35) and Seattle’s Russell Wilson (35).

Eight quarterbacks had a passer rating of 100 or higher, including three with a 110+ passer rating in 2018: New Orleans’ Drew Brees (115.7), Mahomes (113.8) and Wilson (110.9). The eight quarterbacks with a passer rating of 100 or higher were the most in a single season in NFL history, surpassing the previous record of six in the 2015 season.

TOP BACKS: Nine players rushed for at least 1,000 yards, including three players with at least 1,200 rushing yards, this season: Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott (1,434), New York Giants’ rookie Saquon Barkley (1,307) and Los Angeles Rams’ Todd Gurley (1,251).

The 2018 season saw players average 4.42 yards per rush attempt, the highest single-season total in league history.

The seasons with the highest average yards per rush attempt in NFL history:

SEASON – AVERAGE YARDS PER RUSH ATTEMPT
2018 – 4.42
2011 – 4.29
2012 – 4.26

Six players recorded at least 10 rushing touchdowns in 2018: Gurley (17), New Orleans’ Alvin Kamara (14), Pittsburgh’s James Conner (12), Tennessee’s Derrick Henry (12), Saquon Barkley (11) and Los Angeles Chargers’ Melvin Gordon (10).

RIDICULOUS RECEIVERS: Twenty-one players had at least 1,000 receiving yards, including six with at least 1,400 receiving yards, this season: Atlanta’s Julio Jones (1,677), Houston’s De Andre Hopkins (1,572), Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans (1,524), Kansas City’s Tyreek Hill (1,479), Pittsburgh’s JuJu Smith-Schuster (1,426) and New Orleans’ Michael Thomas (1,405).

Eleven players had at least 100 receptions in 2018, including seven with at least 110 catches: Thomas (125), Philadelphia’s Zach Ertz (116), Hopkins (115), Minnesota’s Adam Thielen (113), Jones (113), Green Bay’s Davante Adams (111) and  Smith-Schuster (111).

With 11 players recording at least 100 catches this season, the 2018 season surpassed the 1995 season (nine) for the most players with at least 100 catches in a single season.

The seasons with the most players with at least 100 receptions in NFL history:

SEASON – PLAYERS WITH 100+ RECEPTIONS
2018 – 11
1995 – 9
2015 – 7

Nine players had at least 10 touchdown catches this season, including four with at least 12 touchdown receptions: Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown (15), Adams (13), Indianapolis’ Eric Ebron (13) and Hill (12).

DOMINANT DEFENDERS: Twenty-two players recorded at least 10 sacks, including six with at least 14 sacks, in 2018: Los Angeles Rams’ Aaron Donald (20.5), Houston’s J.J. Watt (16), Kansas City’s Chris Jones (15.5), Denver’s Von Miller (14.5), Minnesota’s Danielle Hunter (14.5) and Seattle’s Frank Clark (14).

With 16 players recording at least 12 sacks, the 2018 season tied the 1992 season (16 players) for the third-most players with at least 12 sacks in a single season since 1982 when the individual sack became an official statistic.

The seasons with the most players with at least 12 sacks since 1982:

SEASON – PLAYERS WITH 12+ SACKS
1984 – 19
1983 – 18
2018 – 16
1992 – 16

Six players recorded at least five interceptions in 2018: Chicago’s Kyle Fuller (seven), Miami’s Xavien Howard (seven), Atlanta’s Damontae Kazee (seven), Chicago’s Eddie Jackson (six), Cincinnati’s Shawn Williams (five) and New York Giants’ Alec Ogletree (five).

After two weekends of going 8-8, we got ourselves back on track by going 13-3 and for the season, we’re 145-107. Wild Card weekend gets underway in the Lone Star State as Houston and Dallas host their contests on Saturday and concludes in the Windy City as the defending Super Bowl champs open their defense of their title. As an added bonus, all of the post-season games are going to be “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 58 last June and dates a 43-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?”)

It’s post-season football. It’s win and advance; lose and you’re clearing out your locker. The regular season’s done and it’s time to either defend your title or win one of your own. With that, here are the Saturday and Sunday Wild Card picks.

Indianapolis (10-6) at Houston (11-5), 4:35 p.m. Saturday on ESPN. Luck vs. Watson. They meet again. This time, it’s in Houston as a pair of AFC South rivals open the 2018 wild Card round in the Lone Star State. Both clubs enter the Saturday afternoon contest at NRG Stadium with wins under their belts.

Andrew Luck and the Colts led from start to finish in their 33-17 “winner-take-all” AFC South contest at Tennessee last Sunday. Indianapolis led 17-10 at the break, then pulled away from the Titans in the second half to take the win. Luck threw for 285 yards and three TDs with an interception (he was sacked once), while Blaine Gabbert, who took over for Marcus Mariota, threw for 165 yards with a TD toss to TE Luke Stocker but was picked off twice. Indianapolis outrushed Tennessee 158-93 with Derrick Henry accounting for all of their yardage, while the Colts’ Marlon Mack led all rushers with 119 yards and a TD. The Colts were 5 of 13 on third down (they were 1 for 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 40:13, while Tennessee kept the ball for 19:47, while going 1 of 9 on third down, 0 for 1 on fourth down.

Houston held Jacksonville to a Kai Forbath field goal in the first quarter and cruised their way to the AFC South titla, taking a 20-3 win over the Jagaurs at NRG Stadium last Sunday. Houston broke a 3-3 first quarter tie, took a 17-3 lead with them to the intermission and never looked back, shutting out the Jaguars the rest of the way. Houston held Jacksonville to 30 yards rushing, while tallying 134 for themselves, with DeSean Watson leading the way with 66 of those yards. Watson threw for 234 yards and despite being sacked six times, did not throw an interception, while sacking Blake Bortles (107 yards) three times and picked him off once. Houston was 6 of 17 on third down tries but had success on fourth down, going 1 of 1 and the Texans kept the ball for 35:07, while the Jaguars were 24:53 in time of possession, going 3 for 12 on third down.

They met twice in the 2018 campaign and split the two contests, each taking wins in the other team’s building. Their first meeting was in week four in the Hoosier State and Houston used a pair of Ka’imi Fairbairn field goals in overtime to take a 38-34 win over Indianpolis and Andrew Luck in the Hoosier State in week four. Houston took a 21-10 lead with them to the half, before Indianapolis would rally to pull even with 45 seconds left in regulation when Luck and rookie RB Nyheim Hines connected on a 9-yard TD toss. The Colts, who were outrushed by the Texans 119-41, scored first in the overtime on a 44 yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri to take a 3-point lead. That lead would not last very long as Fairbairn connected on a 29-yard field goal with 1:50 left in the period. Houston then got the ball back after a Colts punt and the Texans used all 24 seconds left and took the win when Fairbairn connected on a 37-yard field goal as time expired to pick up their first win of the season. Houston’s DeShaun Watson threw for 375 yards with a pair of TD but was sacked seven times, while Luck was sacked four times. Indy was 10 of 17 on third down (the Colts were 0 of 1 on fourth down) and held the ball for 29:56, while the Texans kept the ball for 40:04, going 8 of 16 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down.

The Colts evened the score, coming away 24-21 winners in Houston in week 14. In that meeting, Indianapolis broke Houston’s 9-game win streak as Luck and the Colts came away winners Sunday afternoon at NRG Stadium. The Texans took a 7-0 lead after the first quarter and saw that lead vanish as the Colts scored 17 second quarter points unchallenged to take a 17-7 lead with them to the intermission. Houston would eventually make it a 3-point game with 2:37 left in regulation when WR DeAnrde Hopkins and Texans QB DeShaun Watson connected on a 7-yard TD toss to bring them closer. The Colts then proceeded to run out the clock and take the win over their AFC South rivals. While Houston outrushed Indianapolis 89-50, Luck threw for 399 yards with a pair of TDs, while Watson threw for 267 yards with a TD and no interceptions (Watson was sacked five times, Luck was sacked twice and threw an interception). The Texans were 5 of 15 on third down conversions (they were perfect on fourth down, going 2 of 2) and they would keep the ball for 31:57, while the Colts would keep the pigskin for 28:03, going 4 of 12 on third down tries.

Indianapolis was a 2-point favorite in the Hoosier State in week four and the Texans would come away 3-point overtime winners, allowing them to cover the spread and the 71 combined points in the contest allowed both teams to cove the 47 1/2 over/under. In the week 14 contest in Houston, the Texans saw themselves favored by 4 1/2 but the Colts came out with the 3-point road win. As for the 48 1/2 over/under? It was safe and sound, as both teams tallied only 45 points. This time, the boys and girls in Vegas like the Texans as 2 1/2-point favorites with a 47 1/2 over/under. The winner of this game? They get to go to Foxboro; as for the loser? They are done for the year. Houston covers the 2 1/2 in the Lone Star State and advances to the next round.

Seattle (10-6) at Dallas (10-6), 8:15 p.m. Saturday on FOX. Saturday Wild Card action concludes in Arlington as Dallas and Seattle meet at Jerry World (AT&T Stadium). Both teams survived scares to close out regular season play last week.

Seattle broke a 24-24 tie in the final seconds at home in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks, coming away 27-24 winners against NFC West rival Arizona at Century Link Field. Leading the Desert Angry Birds 14-13 at the intermission, Arizona would eventually pull themselves even with 1:49 left on a Zendalas Gonzalez field goal to tie the contest up at 24-24. Seattle would use all of the 1:49 that was on the clock, using an 8-play, 60-yard drive and sending their fan base home happy when K Sebastian Janikowski nailed a 33-yard field goal as time ran out. Seattle rushed for 182 yards in the win (Seahawks RB Chris Carson led all rushers with 122 yards and a TD), while holding Arizona to 85 yards on the ground. Seattle QB Russell Wilson threw for 152 yards, while Cardinals’ QB Josh Rosen threw for 149 yards (each threw a TD pass; Wilson connected with Todd Lockett, Rosen connected with Larry Fitzgerald, Wilson had an interception) and each man was sacked six times. Seattle was 4 of 14 on third down and kept the ball for 29:09 (including the final 1:49 of the contest), while Arizona ruled the clock and held the ball for 30:51 and went 4 of 17 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth down.

Dallas erased a 35-28 deficit in the Meadowlands and came away 36-35 winners at Met Life Stadium last Sunday. The Cowboys, who rested RB Ezekiel Elliott, rallied with 72 seconds left in regulation when Dak Prescott and WR Cole Beasley connected on a 32-yard TD pass to make it a 1-pont contest. Dallas, who used nine plays and 70 yards to score, then took the lead when Prescott and rookie WR Michael Gallup connected on the two-point conversion. Dallas then held off a last-ditch rally by the Giants to take the win in upstate New Jersey, stopping four Eli Manning passes that could have give the Giants the win. While New York did outrush Dallas 143-51 (Saquon Barkley led all rushers with 109 yards), Prescott threw for 387 yards with four TDs (Prescott was sacked four times but did not throew an interception), while Manning threw for 301 yards with a TD toss to TE Evan Engram, while he was sacked once and threw an interception. Dallas was 11 of 17 on third down, 2 of 3 on fourth down and kept the ball for 30:52, while the Giants kept the pigskin for 29:08 and went 7 of 15 and 2 of 3 on third and fourth downs.

Dallas and Seattle met in the Pacific Northwest in week 3 and the Seahawks prevailed 24-13. In the Seahawks win, Dallas was held in check by Russell Wilson and Seattle in the Pacific Northwest as the Seahawks took the 11-point win at Century Link Field in the late Sunday afternoon contest. Dallass trailed 17-3 at the half and could never really get on track, even though they did outscore Seattle 10-3 in the second half. Dallas did outrush Seattle 166-113, with Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott rushing for 127 yards, while Seattle was paced by Chris Carson, who ran for 102 yards and a rushing TD. wilson threw for 192 yards and a pair of TDs, while Dak Prescott threw for 168 yards with five sacks and picked off twice by CB Earl Thomas. Seattle was 7 of 16 on third down tries and held the ball for 32:44, while the Cowboys kept the ball for 27:16, going 3 of 13 on third down conversions, 1 of 2 on fourth down tries.

In the week three contest in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks, Seattle was favored by 1 1/2 points and covered, winning by 11 points. The 41 1/2 over/under was untouched, as the two teams mustered a mere 37 points. The Cowboys are favored by 2 1/2 in the Lone Star State and the over/under’s 43. Seattle’s looking to repeat history, Dallas is looking for revenge and the winner of this one gets to go to the Big Easy and a date with Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints. They may not cover the 2 1/2 but Seattle prevails in Jerry World, taking the win on the road.

Los Angeles Chargers (12-4) at Baltimore (10-6), 1 p.m. Sunday on CBS. Sunday Wild Card action gets underway in Charm City as the Ravens host Philip Rivers and the Los Angeles Chargers at M&T Bank Stadium.

The Chargers got revenge from a week 11 loss to Denver at Stub Hub and came away 23-9 winners at Broncos Stadium at Mile High last Sunday. After a scoreless first quarter, Los Angeles led 7-3 at the break, took a 14-3 lead with them to the final 15 minutes of action and held the Broncos in check the rest of the way. The Chargers outrushed Denver 116-82 and Rivers threw for 176 yards with a TD and a pair of interceptions, while Denver’s Case Keenum threw for 292 yards with a TD, a sack and was picked off once. The Chargers, who got a defensive two-point conversion from CB Casey Heyward, went 4 for 11 on third down tries in the Mile High City and kept the ball for 28:12, while Denver actually ruled the clock and kept the pigskin for 31:48, going 4 of 14 on third down, 1 for 2 on fourth down.

The Ravens held off a late Cleveland rally at home in Charm City and came away 26-24 winners last Sunday, taking the AFC North title at M&T Bank Stadium.

They met in Los Angeles in week 16 at Stub Hub Centre and the Chargers watched Baltimore keep their playoff hopes alive on the West Coast as the Ravens held off the Chargers 22-10 at Stub Hub Centre. The Ravens led 6-3 at the half against Rivers and the Chargers, then floored the gas in the final 30 minutes of play, reclaiming the lead after the Chargers’ Melvin Gordon scored on a 1-yard run with 13:18 left in the third.

Baltimore would then go on to score their final 16 points of the game unchallenged, with the final tally coming when CB Tavon Young scored on a 62-yard fumble return with 2:40 left as the Chargers were driving to tie the contest up. Baltimore outrushed Los Angeles 159-51, with Jackson throwing for 204 yards and a TD, while Rivers threw for 181 yards (Rivers was sacked four times and picked off twice, Jackson was sacked three times but did not throw an interception). Baltimore went 4 of 14 on third down (they were 1 of 2 on fourth down) and the Ravens held on to the ball for 31:25, while the Chargers held on to the ball for 28:35, going 4 for 13 on thir down tries in the Saturday night contest on the West Coast.

In the week 16 Saturday night contest on the West Coast, the Bolts were favored by 5 and the Ravens covered, winning by 12. The 44 1/2 over/under was untouched as they combined for 32 points. This time? The Ravens are favored by 2 in Charm City and the over/under’s 41 1/2. Baltimore’s looking to prove that the first meeting was not a fluke; as for the Chargers, they’re looking for revenge from their loss at home to the Ravens in week 16. The winner of this one? They get to face some guy named Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in Foxboro.Revenge wins out here. Bolts cover the 2 in Charm City and takes the win.

Philadelphia (9-7) at Chicago (12-4), 4:40 p.m. Sunday on NBC. Wild Card weekend comes to an end in the Windy City as the Monsters of the Midway, Da Bears, host the defending Super Bowl champs at Soldier Field. Both clubs won their regular season finales on the road last week.

Philadelphia got help from Chicago as Da Bears beat Minnesota 24-10 in the Twin Cities, then shutout Washington 24-0 at FedEx Field. The defending Super Bowl champs scored all of their points in the contest unchallenged and led 10-0 at the half against their NFC East rivals. Philadelphia held Washington to 21 yards rushing, while they tallied 129 yards of their own. Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor each caught TD passes from Nick Foles (221 yards, three sacks, interception; Agholor also caught a TD pass from backup QB Nate Sudfeld), while Washington’s Josh Johnson threw for 91 yards, four sacks and an interception. The Eagles were 8 for 14 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down and were ball hogs, keeping the pigskin away from Washington for 43:19, while the Redskins were a dismal 0 for 9 on third down (2 for 4 on fourth down) and held the ball for 16:41.

Chicago ended Minnesota’s hopes for a playoff spot as Da Bears would leave the Twin Cities 24-10 winners at US Bank Stadium. Chicago led 13-3 at the intermission in the Land of 10,000 Lakes thanks to a pair of rushing TDs by Jordan Howard before the Vikings made it a 7-point game with 1:51 left in the third quarter when WR Stefon Diggs caught a 2-yard TD pass from Kirk Cousins. Chicago would put the contest on ice in the fourth quarter, with Tarik Cohen rushing for a 3-yard TD run with 7:46 left in the contest. Chicago would then go for two and found success when Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Kwiatkoski connected on the conversion. Cody Parkey would then put the nail in Minnesota’s coffin when he connected on a 42-yard field goal to seal the win. Da Bears outrushed Minnesota 169-63, with Howard leading the way with 109 yards and the two TDs. Trubisky threw for 163 yards without a sack or interception, while Cousins threw for 132 yards with four cats and no interceptions. Chicago went 8 for 14 on third down (they were 0 for 2 on fourth down) and kept the ball in hibernation for 37:08, while the Vikings were 1 of 11 and 1 of 4 on third and fourth downs, keeping the ball for 22:52.

While Chicago and Philadelphia did not meet in the 2018 regular season, Da Bears lead da regular season series 28-12-1 and they have outscored the Eagles 873-617. The Eagles have won the last three regular season meetings, including taking a 31-3 win in the City of Brotherly Love in 2017, while Chicago’s last win over the Eagles in regular season action came in 2011 when da Bears left Philadelphia 30-24 winners.

The two teams were know for their last post-season contest in Chicago, which took place in 2001 in the NFC Divisonal Playoffs in Chicago and the Eagles were 33-19 winners but the two teams are best known for the “Fog Bowl” that was played at Solider Field in 1988 (also a Divisonal Playoff game) which da Bears braved the elements and a fog that was coming off Lake Michigan to take a 20-12 win. The contest started with sunny weather in the Windy City and then the fog became the star of the show. According to WGN-TV and the Chicago Tribune, as the fog continued into the start of the second half, the broadcast (CBS televised the contest) was shown from the field cameras instead of the ones overhead due to the conditions. Terry Bradshaw, who was working with Vern Lundquist, even moved from the booth to the field in an effort to provide better commentary.

As for that regular season meeting… it took place in week 12 in the City of Brotherly Love and the Eagles scored 24 first half points unchecked and held Da Bears to a 38-yard field goal by Carlos Santos in the third quarter. LeGarrett Blount ran for 97 of Philadelphia’s 176 yards, while the Bears were held to a somewhat dismal 6 yards on the ground and Carson Wentz threw for 227 yards and three TDs without an interception, while Trubisky threw for 147 yards with a pair of interceptions and a pair of sacks. Philadelphia was 7 of 16 on third down but struck paydirt on fourth down, going 3 for 4 and kept the ball for 37:08, while Chicago went 3 of 13 on third down (0 of 2 on fourth down) and held on to the ball for 22:52.

The Eagles easily covered the 13 1/2-point spread in the week 12 2017 contest, winning by 28 but the 44 over/under stayed in tact, as both teams scored 34 points. Chicago’s favored by 5 1/2 in the Windy City and the over/under’s 41 1/2. Both numbers make a ton of sense. The winner gets to go to Los Angeles and play the Rams again. The loser… their season is done. Long live the king. Bears take the win at home in the Windy City, even though the Eagles could make it closer than the 5 1/2.

The end has come.

It’s week 17 in a season that has brought a lot of excitement and hope for teams that have not been to the post-season in a while. For Cleveland, it was a season that saw them pick up their first win in two seasons. It was a season that saw two teams (Cleveland and Green Bay) change coaches in mid-season. It was also a season that was competitive and somewhat entertaining.

When the Indianapolis-Tennessee game comes to an end in Nashville Sunday, 12 teams will be in the post-season party. As for the other 20 teams? They will be clearing out lockers, going home and getting ready for the Senior Bowl and the 2019 draft. The opponents for all 32 teams will be announced this week and the schedule will be annonced in April. In case you’re wondering, the 2019 NFL regular season starts on September 5th, so mark those calendars now.

It’s the final push for NFL teams as the regular season ends on Sunday. All 16 games are division contests and with one week to go, there are still 15 teams in contention for a trip to Super Bowl LIII.

Nine of the 12 playoff teams have been determined. Five of the eight divisions have been clinched. And there’s still plenty to play for in Week 17.

In the AFC, four teams have already punched their ticket to the postseason: New England (10-5, AFC East), Houston (10-5, playoff berth), Kansas City (11-4, playoff berth) and the Los Angeles Chargers (11-4, playoff berth).

Baltimore (9-6) and Pittsburgh (8-6-1) are vying for the AFC North title. Indianapolis (9-6) and Tennessee (9-6) face off on NBC’s Sunday Night Football at 8:20 p.m. in a win-and-you’re-in battle. Houston can clinch the AFC South title with a win this week, but the winner of the Indianapolis-Tennessee game would take the division crown with a Houston loss.

In the NFC, five teams have locked up playoff spots, including all four division winners: Dallas (9-6, NFC East), Chicago (11-4, NFC North), New Orleans (13-2, NFC South), the Los Angeles Rams (12-3, NFC West) and Seattle (9-6, playoff berth).

Minnesota (8-6-1) and Philadelphia (8-7) are in contention for the final Wild Card spot in the NFC. The Vikings are in position to clinch a playoff berth with a win, while the Eagles need a win and a Minnesota loss to secure their postseason entry.

The Bears, who have clinched the NFC North division title for the first time since 2010, have completed a “worst-to-first” turnaround and at least one team has won its division the season after finishing in or tied for last place in 15 of the past 16 seasons. If Houston clinches the AFC South on Sunday, it would mark the second consecutive season that two teams go from worst to first (Jacksonville and Philadelphia in 2017) – something that has never happened before in any other major US sport.

Since the 12-team playoff format was adopted in 1990 – a streak of 29 consecutive seasons – at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before.

With one week remaining, five teams have already qualified for the playoffs after missing the postseason in 2017 – the Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans, Los Angeles Chargers and Seattle Seahawks. That number could swell to as many as seven if both the Baltimore Ravens and Indianapolis Colts qualify for the postseason on Sunday.

A look at some of the key games in Week 17:

Carolina (6-9) at New Orleans (13-2) 1 p.m. on FOX
•The Saints have clinched the NFC South, a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

Dallas (9-6) at New York Giants (5-10), 1 p.m. on FOX
•The Cowboys have clinched the NFC East and will enter the NFC playoffs as the No. 4 seed.

Jacksonville (5-10) at Houston (10-5), 1 p.m. on CBS
•The Texans, who have clinched a playoff berth, can claim the AFC South with a win. Houston can also clinch a first-round bye with a win and a New England loss and can clinch home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs with a win combined with losses by New England, Kansas City and the Los Angeles Chargers.

New York Jets (4-11) at New England (10-5), 1 p.m. on CBS
•The Patriots, who have won the AFC East, can earn a first-round bye with a win or if Baltimore, Houston and Tennessee all lose.

Arizona (3-12) at Seattle (9-6), 4:25 p.m. on FOX
•The Seahawks have clinched a playoff berth and will enter the NFC playoffs as the No. 5 or 6 seed.

Chicago (11-4) at Minnesota (8-6-1), 4:25 p.m. on FOX
•The Bears, who have clinched the NFC North, can secure a first-round bye with a win and a Los Angeles Rams loss.
•The Vikings can clinch a playoff berth with a win or a Philadelphia loss.

Cincinnati (6-9) at Pittsburgh (8-6-1), 4:25 p.m. on CBS
•The Steelers can claim the AFC North with a win and a Baltimore loss.

Cleveland (7-7-1) at Baltimore (9-6), 4:25 p.m. on CBS
•The Ravens can win the AFC North with a win or a Pittsburgh loss.

Los Angeles Chargers (11-4) at Denver (7-8), 4:25 p.m. on CBS
•The Chargers, who have clinched a playoff berth, can claim the AFC West division title, a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs with a win combined with a Kansas City loss.

Oakland (4-11) at Kansas City (11-4), 4:25 p.m. on CBS
•The Chiefs, who have clinched a playoff berth, can claim the AFC West division title, a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs with a win. A Los Angeles Chargers loss would also give the Chiefs the AFC West crown.

Philadelphia (8-7) at Washington (7-8), 4:25 p.m. on FOX
•​The Eagles can secure a playoff berth with a win combined with a Minnesota loss.

San Francisco (4-11) at Los Angeles Rams (12-3), 4:25 p.m. on FOX
•The Rams have won the NFC West and can clinch a first-round bye with a win or a Chicago loss.

Indianapolis (9-6) at Tennessee (9-6), 8:20 p.m. on NBC
•​The winner of this game locks up a playoff spot.
•The Colts can clinch the AFC South division title with a win combined with a Houston loss.
•The Titans can clinch the AFC South division title with a win combined with a Houston loss. With a win and losses by Houston, New England and Baltimore, the Titans would secure a first-round bye. ​

SEVEN FROM SUNDAY:

New Orleans defeated Pittsburgh 31-28 to clinch home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. With the Steelers’ loss, Houston clinched a playoff berth.

New England defeated Buffalo 24-12 and clinched the AFC East division title for the 10th consecutive season.

The Patriots have advanced to the postseason in 10 consecutive seasons (2009-18), surpassing Dallas (nine from 1975-1983) and Indianapolis (nine from 2002-2010) for the most consecutive seasons in NFL history with a playoff berth.

With their 10th win of the season, New England (16 seasons from 2003-2018) tied San Francisco (16 from 1983-98) for the most consecutive seasons with at least 10 victories in NFL history.

New England quarterback Tom Brady, who has 4,105 passing yards this season, joins Peyton Manning (14 seasons), Drew Brees  (12) and Philip Rivers (10) as the only quarterbacks in NFL history with 10 seasons of at least 4,000 passing yards.

Dallas defeated Tampa Bay 27-20, allowing them to clinch the NFC East division title for the second time in the past three seasons. Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott had 109 scrimmage yards (85 rushing, 24 receiving) in the Cowboys’ Week 16 victory.

Elliott, who has 4,048 rushing yards and 1,199 receiving yards in his three-year NFL career, is the fifth player in NFL history with at least 4,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards in his first three NFL seasons, joining Ottis Anderson, Chris Johnson and Pro Football Hall of Famers Barry Sanders and LaDainian Tomlinson.

Elliott, who had 1,994 scrimmage yards in 2016, leads the NFL with 2,001 scrimmage yards this season and joins Pro Football Hall of Famers Eric Dickerson and LaDainian Tomlinson and Edgerrin James as the only players in league annals with at least 1,900 scrimmage yards in two of their first three career seasons.

· Cleveland rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield completed 27 of 37 pass attempts (73.0 percent) for 284 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions for a 121.9 passer rating in the Browns’ 26-18 win against Cincinnati. Mayfield, who has 24 touchdown passes in 2018, surpassed Andrew Luck (23 touchdown passes in 2012) for the second-most touchdown passes by a rookie quarterback selected number 1 overall in the common draft era. Only Peyton Manning (26 in 1998) had more passing touchdowns as a rookie quarterback selected number 1 overall in the common draft era.

· Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers completed 37 of 55 pass attempts (67.3 percent) for 442 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions for a 103.8 passer rating and had two rushing touchdowns in the Packers’ 44-38 overtime win at the New York Jets. Rodgers is the only player in NFL history with at least 400 passing yards, two passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns. He also previously accomplished the feat on October 2, 2011 against Denver (408 passing yards, four touchdown passes and two rushing touchdowns).

· Philadelphia quarterback Nick Foles passed for 471 yards and four touchdowns while tight end Zach Ertz had 12 receptions for 110 yards and two touchdowns in the Eagles’ 32-30 victory against Houston. Foles is the first quarterback in franchise history with multiple career games of at least 400 passing yards and four touchdown passes (406 passing yards and seven touchdown passes on November 3, 2013 at Oakland). His 471 passing yards are the most in a single game in franchise history, surpassing Donovan McNabb, who passed for 464 yards against Green Bay on December 5, 2004.

Ertz, who has a franchise-record 113 catches in 2018, surpassed Jason Witten (110 receptions in 2012) for the most receptions by a tight end in a single season in NFL history.

· Minnesota wide receiver Adam Thielen had five receptions for 80 yards in the Vikings’ 27-9 victory at Detroit.

Thielen, who signed as an undrafted free agent with Minnesota in 2013, has 110 catches and 1,335 receiving yards in 2018 and joins Rod Smith (2000 and 2001) and Wes Welker (2009, 2011 and 2012) as the only undrafted players in the common draft era with at least 100 receptions and 1,300 receiving yards in a single season.

· Carolina running back Christian McCaffery had 178 scrimmage yards (101 rushing, 77 receiving) and 12 receptions in the Panthers’ Week 16 loss against Atlanta. McCaffrey, who leads all running backs with 106 receptions this season, surpassed Matt Forte (102 receptions in 2014) for the most receptions by a running back in a single season in NFL history.

McCaffrey, who has 1,080 rushing yards in 2018, joins Pro Football Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson (2003) and Matt Forte (2014) as the only players in NFL history with at least 1,000 rushing yards and 100 receptions in a single season.

· Pittsburgh wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster had 11 receptions for 115 yards in the Steelers’ Week 16 loss against New Orleans. Smith-Schuster, who is 22 years and 31 days old, has 106 catches this season and surpassed Larry Fitzgerald (22 years, 123 days) as the youngest player to reach 100 receptions in a single season in NFL history.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN WEEK 17

PLAYOFFS ON THE LINE: All 16 games are division contests in Week 17 and there are still 15 teams in contention for a trip to Super Bowl LIII.

In the AFC, four teams have already punched their ticket to the postseason: New England (10-5, AFC East), Houston (10-5, playoff berth), Kansas City (11-4, playoff berth) and the Los Angeles Chargers (11-4, playoff berth).

In the NFC, five teams have locked up playoff spots, including all four division winners: Dallas (9-6, NFC East), Chicago (11-4, NFC North), New Orleans (13-2, NFC South), the Los Angeles Rams (12-3, NFC West) and Seattle (9-6, playoff berth).

HISTORY IN THE MAKING: Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes leads the NFL with 48 touchdown passes this season.

With two touchdown passes on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium against Oakland at 4:25 p.m. on CBS, Mahomes can join Peyton Manning (55 touchdown passes in 2013) and Tom Brady (50 in 2007) as the only quarterbacks with at least 50 touchdown passes in a single season in NFL history.

The players with the most touchdown passes in a single season in NFL history:​

PLAYER – TEAM (SEASON – TOUCHDOWN PASSES)
Peyton Manning – Denver (2013 – 55)#
Tom Brady – New England (2007 – 50)#
Peyton Manning – Indianapolis (2004 – 49)#
Patrick Mahomes – Kansas City (2018 – 48)*
Dan Marino – Miami (1984 – 48)^#
^Pro Football Hall of Famer
#Named Associate​d Press Most Valuable Player
*Entering Week 17

RIDICULOUS ROOKIE: New York Giants rookie running back Saquon Barkley ranks third in the NFL with 1,886 scrimmage yards this season.

With 114 scrimmage yards against Dallas at 1 p.m. on FOX, Barkley would join Pro Football Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson (2,212 scrimmage yards in 1983) and Edgerrin James (2,139 in 1999) as the only rookies with at least 2,000 scrimmage yards in NFL history.

The rookies with at least 2,000 scrimmage yards in NFL history:
PLAYER – TEAM (SEASON – SCRIMMAGE YARDS)
Eric Dickerson – Los Angeles Rams (1983 – 2,212)^#
Edgerrin James – Indianapolis (1999 – 2,139)#
Saquon Barkley – New York Giants (2018 – 1,886)*
^Pro Football Hall of Famer
#Named Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year
*Entering Week 17

Barkley has 87 receptions this season and needs two catches against the Cowboys to surpass Reggie Bush (88 receptions in 2006) for the most catches by a rookie running back in league annals.

RUN & CATCH CMC: Carolina running back Christian McCaffrey ranks second in the league with 1,925 scrimmage yards (1,080 rushing, 845 receiving) this season. McCaffrey has 106 catches in 2018 and surpassed Matt Forte (102 receptions in 2014) for the most receptions by a running back in a single season in league annals.

With 55 receiving yards at New Orleans at 1 p.m. on FOX, McCaffrey would join Pro Football Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk (1998 and 1999) and Roger Craig (1985) as the only players in NFL history with at least 1,000 rushing yards and 900 receiving yards in a single season.

The players with at least 1,000 rushing yards and 900 receiving yards in a single season in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAM (SEASON – RUSHING YARDS/RECEIVING YARDS)
Marshall Faulk – St. Louis (1999 – 1,381/1,048)^
Marshall Faulk – Indianapolis (1998 – 1,319/908)^
Roger Craig – San Francisco (1985 – 1,050/1,016)
Christian McCaffrey – Carolina (2018 – 1,080/845)*
^Pro Football Hall of Famer
*Entering Week 17

HISTORY FOR AB: Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown has 104 receptions for 1,297 yards and leads the league with a franchise-record 15 touchdown catches this season.

With three receiving yards against Cincinnati at Heinz Field at 4:25 p.m. on CBS, Brown would become the first player in league annals with five seasons of at least 100 receptions and 1,300 receiving yards.

The players with the most seasons of at least 100 receptions and 1,300 receiving yards in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAM (SEASONS WITH 100+ CATCHES AND 1,300+ RECIEVING YARDS)
Antonio Brown – Pittsburgh (4)
Marvin Harrison – Indianapolis (4)^
Andre Johnson – Houston (4)
^Pro Football Hall of Famer
*Has 104 receptions & 1,297 receiving yards in 2018

Brown and teammate JuJu Smith-Schuester, who has 106 receptions and became the youngest player in league history with at least 100 receptions in a single season, can become the first pair of teammates in league annals to each record at least 110 receptions in the same season.

DOMINANT DONALD: Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald leads the NFL with a career-high 19.5 sacks this season.

With three sacks against San Francisco at 4:25 p.m. on FOX, Donald would tie Pro Football Hall of Famer Michael Strahan (22.5 sacks in 2001) for the most sacks in a single season since 1982 when the individual sack became an official statistic.

The players with the most sacks in a single season since 1982:

PLAYER – TEAM (SEASON – SACKS)
Michael Strahan – New York Giants (2001 – 22.5)^
Jared Allen – Minnesota (2011 – 22)
Mark Gastineau – New York Jets (1984 – 22)
Justin Houston – Kansas City (2014 – 22)
Aaron Donald – Los Angeles Rams (2018 – 19.5)*
^Pro Football Hall of Famer
*Entering Week 17

Donald, who has recorded at least two sacks in seven games this season, can become the second player since 1982 to record at least eight games with two-or-more sacks in a single season, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers Reggie White (eight games in 1987).​

The players with the most games with two-or-more sacks in a single season since 1982:​​

PLAYER – TEAM (SEASON – GAMES WITH 2+ SACKS)
Reggie White – Philadelphia (1987 – 8)^#
Chris Doleman – Minnesota (1989 – 7)^
Aaron Donald – Los Angeles Rams (2018 – 7)*
Bruce Smith- Buffalo (1990 – 7)^#
^Pro Football Hall of Famer
#Named Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year
*Entering Week 17

There are plenty of scenarios that involve either a divisonal title or a wild card spot, so you might want to pay attention (this is gonna cause more confusion than a mouse in a burlesque show… apologies to Foghorn Leghorn!)

2018 NFL PLAYOFF SCENARIOS FOR WEEK 17

NFC

CLINCHED: New Orleans – NFC South division title and home-field advantage, Los Angeles Rams – NFC West division title, Chicago – NFC North division title, Dallas – NFC East division title, Seattle – playoff berth

Los Angeles Rams (12-3) (vs. San Francisco (4-11), 4:25 p.m. on FOX

Los Angeles clinches a first-round bye with:
1.Los Angeles Rams win or tie OR
2.Chicago loss or tie

Chicago (11-4) (at Minnesota (8-6-1), 4:25 p.m. on FOX

Chicago clinches a first-round bye with:
1.Chicago win + Los Angeles Rams loss

Minnesota (8-6-1) vs. Chicago (11-4), 4:25 p.m. on FOX

Minnesota clinches a playoff berth with:
1.Minnesota win or tie OR
2.Philadelphia loss or tie

Philadelphia (8-7) at Washington (7-8), 4:25 p.m. on FOX

Philadelphia clinches a playoff berth with:
1.Philadelphia win + Minnesota loss

AFC
CLINCHED: Kansas City – Playoff berth, Los Angeles Chargers – Playoff berth, New England – AFC East division title, Houston – Playoff berth​

Kansas City (11-4) vs. Oakland (4-11), 4:25 p.m. on CBS

Kansas City clinches AFC West division title and home-field advantage throughout AFC playoffs with:
1.Kansas City win OR
2.Kansas City tie + Los Angeles Chargers loss or tie OR
3.Los Angeles Chargers loss + New England loss or tie + Houston loss or tie OR
4.Los Angeles Chargers loss + New England loss or tie + Kansas City clinches at least a tie in strength of victory tiebreaker over Houston

Kansas City clinches AFC West division title and a first-round bye with:
1.Los Angeles Chargers loss + New England loss or tie OR
2.Los Angeles Chargers loss + Houston loss or tie
3.Los Angeles Chargers loss + Kansas City clinches at least a tie in strength of victory tiebreaker over Houston

Kansas City clinches AFC West division title with:
1.Los Angeles Chargers loss OR
2.Kansas City tie + Los Angeles Chargers tie

New England (10-5) vs. New York Jets (4-11), 1 p.m. on CBS

New England clinches home-field advantage throughout AFC playoffs with:
1.New England win + Kansas City loss + Los Angeles Chargers loss

New England clinches a first-round bye with:
1.New England win OR
2.New England tie + Houston loss or tie OR
3.Baltimore loss or tie + Houston loss + Tennessee loss or tie

Houston (10-5) vs. Jacksonville (5-10), 1 p.m. on CBS

Houston clinches AFC South division title and home-field advantage throughout AFC playoffs with:
1.Houston win + New England loss or tie + Kansas City loss + Los Angeles Chargers loss + Houston clinches a tie in strength of victory tiebreaker over Kansas City

Houston clinches AFC South division title and a first-round bye with:
1.Houston win + New England loss or tie OR
2.Houston win + Kansas City loss + Los Angeles Chargers loss + Houston clinches a tie in strength of victory tiebreaker over Kansas City OR
3.Houston tie + New England loss OR
4.Indianapolis-Tennessee tie + New England loss + BAL win + Houston clinches a tie in strength of victory tiebreaker over Baltimore

Houston clinches AFC South division title with:
1.Houston win or tie OR
2.Indianapolis-Tennessee tie

Baltimore (9-6) vs. Cleveland (7-7-1), 4:25 p.m. on CBS

Baltimore clinches AFC North division title and a first-round bye with:
1.Baltimore win + New England loss + Houston loss + Indianapolis-Tennessee does not end in a tie OR
2.Baltimore win + New England loss + Houston loss + Baltimore clinches at least a tie in strength of victory tiebreaker over Houston

Baltimore clinches AFC North division title with:
1.Baltimore win OR
2.Pittsburgh loss OR
3.Baltimore tie + Pittsburgh tie

Baltimore clinches a playoff berth with:
1.Baltimore tie + Baltimore-Tennessee tie

Los Angeles Chargers (11-4) at Denver (6-9), 4:25 p.m. on CBS

Los Angeles clinches AFC West division title and home-field advantage throughout AFC playoffs with:
1.Los Angeles Chargers win + Kansas City loss or tie OR
2.Los Angeles Chargers tie + Kansas City loss

Indianapolis (9-6) at Tennessee (9-6), 8:20 p.m. on NBC

Indianapolis clinches AFC South division title with:
1.Indianapolis win + Houston loss

Indianapolis clinches a playoff berth with:
1.Indianapolis win OR
2.Indianapolis tie + Pittsburgh loss or tie OR
3.Indianapolis tie + Baltimore loss

Tennessee clinches AFC South division title and first-round bye with:
1.Tenessee win + Houston loss + New England loss + Baltimore loss or tie

Tennessee clinches AFC South division title with:
1.Tennessee win + Houston loss

Tennessee clinches a playoff berth with:
1.Tennessee win

Pittsburgh (8-6-1) vs. Cincinnati (6-9), 4:25 p.m. on CBS

Pittsburgh clinches AFC North division title with:
1.Pittsburgh win + Baltimore loss or tie OR
2.Pittsburgh tie + Baltimore loss

Pittsburgh clinches a playoff berth with:
1.Pittsburgh win + Indianapolis-Tennessee tie

Got all that? There’s going to be a quiz afterward.

Every game in week 17 is a rematch and there are some contests that have playoff implications, while others are just trying to regroup and get ready for the 2019 campaign. Because this is the final week of the regular season, we are going to make every game on the schedule “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 58 last June and dates a 43-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 week was another 8-8 week, which means for the year, we’re still well above the .500 mark at 132-104. Week 17 begins in Tampa as the Buccaneers host the Atlanta Falcons and concludes in Nashville as Tennesee and Indianapolis meet for the last playoff spot in the AFC. When things settle down, there will be 12 teams making their way toward the Lombardi Trophy and Atlanta, while the other 20 teams will figure out what went wrong in 2018 and what they can do to not make those mistakes in 2019. With that, here are the Sunday picks for week 17.

ATLANTA (6-9) at Tampa Bay (5-10), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 708. Atlanta and Tampa Bay, a pair of NFC South rivals, close out the 2018 campaign on Florida’s West Coast as both teams, out of playoff contention, conclude their seasons.

Atlanta broke a 10-10 tie at the intermission at Bank of America Stadium last Sunday in Charlotte as they scored 14 third quarter points unchallenged, coming away 24-10 winners over Carolina, who played without Cam Newton (shoulder) and put backup QB Taylor Heinicke under center. Heinicke threw for 274 yards in the contest with a TD but Atlanta sacked him twice and picked him off three times, while Matt Ryan threw for 239 yards with three TDs, connecting with Calvin Ridley, Mohamed Sanu and Julio Jones on those tosses without an interception. Atlanta outrushed Carolina 194-141 with RB Brandon Hill leading all rushers with 115, while Carolina was led by RB Christian McCaffrey with 101 yards in the series sweep. Atlanta was 4 of 10 on third down tries and only needed to hold on to the ball for 22:31, while the Panthers kept the pigskin for 37:29, while going 7 of 14 on third down and 0 for 2 on fourth down.

Tampa Bay watched Dallas celebrate winning the NFC East in Arlington as the Buccaneers fell to the Cowboys 27-20 at AT&T Stadium. Tampa Bay trailed 17-13 at the intermission in the Lone Star State, then rallied to make the contest a 7-point affair with 2:05 left in regulation when WR Mike Evans and QB Jameis Winston connected on a 7-yard TD toss. Tampa Bay would then attempt an onside kick, which Dallas recovered. The Cowboys would then run the clock out and take the win and the NFC East crown. Dallas outrushed Tampa Bay 80-63, with Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott leading the way with 85 yards and Dak Prescott threw for 161 yards, while Winstron threw for 336 yards (each had a TD pass without an interception, Prescott had a rushing TD and a sack, while Winston was sacked three times). Dallas was 3 of 9 on third down and held the ball for 24:41, while Tampa Bay ruled the clock, holding the ball for 35:19, going 4 of 13 and 1 of 2 on third and fourth down.

The Falcons held off a late Tampa Bay rally at home in their week six contest, as they prevailed 34-29 over their NFC South rivals in the Big Peach. Atlanta led 24-13 at the half before Tampa Bay hung on and managed to outscore the Falcons 16-10 in the final 30 minutes of play, pulling to within two with 3:47 left when Jameis Winston (395 yards, four TDs, two sacks, two interceptions) and RB Peyton Barber connected on a 5-yard TD toss before the Falcons’ Matt Bryant connected on a 57-yard field goal with 70 seconds left in the contest. Tampa Bay would then make their way downfield afte the kickoff and got as close as Atlanta’s 21-yard line when they tried several lateral passes with seven seconds left but came up short. Tampa Bay outrushed Atlanta 123-70, while Ryan threw for 354 yards with three TDs (TE Austin Hooper, WR Mohamed Sanu and RB Tevin Coleman caught the TD passes, WR Julio Jones led all recievers with 143 yards) and no interceptions. Both clubs did well on third down tries (Atlanta was 8 of 13, Tampa Bay was 5 of 8) and the Falcons ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 31:39 to Tampa Bay’s 28:21.

Atlanta covered the 3 1/2-point spread in the first meeting in the Big Peach, winning by 5 and both clubs covered the 58 over/under as they tallied 64 points. The oddsmakers like Tampa Bay as a 1-point favorite with a 51 1/2 over/under. Both clubs would love nothing more than to salvage their seasons. Tampa Bay’s been struggling of late, while the Falcons have played some decent, if not great, football of late. History has a way of repeating itself and history’s on the side of the Falcons. Atlanta prevails in the Sunshine State, covering the 1.

Miami (7-8) at Buffalo (5-10), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 706. A pair of AFC East rivals face off in upstate New York as Miami travels to Orchard Park to take on the Buffalo Bills at New Era Stadium. Both enter the season finale with losses under their respective belts.

Miami was taken to task by instate rival Jacksonville 17-7 at Hard Rock Stadium last Sunday afternoon in south Florida. The Dolphins and Jaguars were tied at 7-7 at the intermission, then took that tie into the final quarter of play before the Jaguars would go on to score their final 10 points of the day unchallenged, using a Kai Forbath field goal from 26 yards with 10:56 left to play to take the lead, then getting a 33-yard interception return fro Telvin Smith to seal Miami’s fate. Jacksonville outrushed Miami 126-62, as Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill (three sacks) threw for 146 yards with a TD and an interception, while Cody Kessel threw for 106 yards with no TDs or interceptions but was sacked five times. The Dolphins were a somewhat sluggish 2 of 9 on third down tries and kept the ball for 25:15, while the Jaguars were 34:45 in time of possession, going 6 for 13 on third down tries.

Buffalo found themselves losing to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots 26-12 in Foxboro last Sunday. The Pats, who won the AFC East, shutout the Bills in the first half as they trailed 14-0 at the intermission and actually outscored New England 12-10 in the final 30 minutes of action. New England outrushed Buffalo 273-72, with Patriots RB Sony Michele running for 116 yards and a TD. Bills QB Josh Allen threw for 217 yards, while Brady threw for 126 yards with a sack (each threw a TD and had a pair of interceptions) for New England. Buffalo went 2 for 12 on third down (the Bills were 0 for 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 24:22, while the Pats kept the ball for 35:38 and went 3 for 12 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth down.

They met in week 13 in the Sunshine State and Miami came away with the 21-17 win at Hard Rock Stadium. Miami led 14-6 at the half before Buffalo would chip away at the lead, then take it, leading 17-14 with 12 minutes left in the contest when WR Zay Jones and Allen connected on a 25-yard TD toss. Miami would regain control of things, taking the lead back for good with 8:42 left when WR Kenny Stills and Tannehill connected on a 13-yard TD pass. Buffalo outrushed Miami 198-60 with Allen doing most of the damage, rushing for 135 yards and throwing for 231 yards and a pair of TDs to Jones, while Tannehill threw for 137 yards and three TDs (Allen threw a pair of interceptions, while Tannehill threw a pick in the contest). Miami was 2 for 9 on third down tries and kept the ball for 27:03, while the Bills actually ruled the clock and held on to the ball for 32:57,l while 5 for 13 on third down and 0 of 1 on fourth down.

In the week 13 contest in the Sunshine State, Miami was favored by 4 1/2 and while Miami did win, they did not cover, winning by 4. The 40 over/under was untouched as both teams merged for 38 points. The odds makers like the Bills as 3 1/2 point favorites along the shores of Lake Erie and the over/under’s 38 1/2. Both of those numbers are reasonable. Miami would like to finish .500 to close things out. As for the Bills? They’re looking to make sure that doesn’t see the light of day. Buffalo may circle the wagons but Miami prevails in upstate New York and covers the 3 1/2 with the road win.

Jacksonville (5-10) at Houston (10-5), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 705. A pair of AFC South rivals meet in the Lone Star State as Houston returns home to NRG Stadium as the Texans hope to take the division, while Jacksonville has plans to stop them.

Jacksonville ended Miami’s playoff hopes last Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium as they made their trip to south Florida worth their time, coming away 17-7 winners. The Dolphins and Jaguars were tied at 7-7 at the intermission, then took that tie into the final quarter of play before the Jaguars would go on to score their final 10 points of the day unchallenged, using a Kai Forbath field goal from 26 yards with 10:56 left to play to take the lead, then getting a 33-yard interception return fro Telvin Smith to seal Miami’s fate. Jacksonville outrushed Miami 126-62, as Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill (three sacks) threw for 146 yards with a TD and an interception, while Cody Kessel threw for 106 yards with no TDs or interceptions but was sacked five times. The Dolphins were a somewhat sluggish 2 of 9 on third down tries and kept the ball for 25:15, while the Jaguars were 34:45 in time of possession, going 6 for 13 on third down tries.

Houston saw a 30-29 late lead at Philadelphia get away from them as the defending Super Bowl champs would rally in the final two minutes of their contest with the Texans to take a 32-30 last-second win at Lincoln Financial Field last Sunday afternoon. Houston led 16-13 at the break in the City of Brotherly Love, then watched Philadelphia take a 23-16 lead into the final quarter of play before storming back to reclaim the lead with 2:04 left when rookie WR Vyncint Smith caught a 35-yard TD pass from DeSean Watson to take a 30-29 lead. Philadelphia would then proceed to march down the field, using 11 plays, 72 yards and all of the 2:04 left on the clock when K Jake Elliott connected on a 35-yard field goal as time expired, denying the Texans a chance to win the AFC South. Houston outrushed Philadephia 62-57 with Watson leading all rushers with 49 yards and a pair of rushing TDs and threw for 339 yards and a pair of passing TDs (Watson was sacked four times but did not throw an interception), while Eagles back up QB Nick Foles threw for 471 yards and four TDs, connecting with TE Zach Ertz on two of those passes. Houston was 3 for 10 on third down (the Texans were 0 for 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 26:15, while the defending Super Bowl champs kept their playoff hopes alive, going 9 for 16 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down and held the ball for 33:45 (including the final 2:04 of the contest).

Houston gave Jacksonville their second loss in a row at TIAA Stadium, taking a 20-7 win in north Florida in their week seven affair. The Texans and DeSean Watson took a 13-0 lead at the half, then led 20-0 late in the third before they would give up Jacksonville’s only score of the day when T.J. Yeldon and backup QB Cody Keesler connected on a 6-yard TD toss with 2:18 left in the third. Houston’s Lamar Miller ran for 100 yards with a TD to lead all rushers, as the Texans outrushed Jacksonville 141-70. Watson threw for 139 yards with a TD, while Blake Bortles threw for 61 yards before being replaced by Keesler (Keesler threw for 156 yards with the TD, four sacks and an interception). Houston was 8 of 16 on third down tries and they only needed to keep the ball for 29:35, while Jacksonville ruled the clock and held the pigskin for 30:25, going 9 of 19 on third down tries, 0 for 1 on fourth down.

Jacksonville was favored by 4 1/2 in the week seven contest in north Florida and the Texans covered the spread, winning by 13. The 42 1/2 over/under stayed in tact as both teams merged for 27 total points. Houston’s favored by 7 and the over/under’s 40 1/2. For the Texans, a win means that they win the AFC North. They’re already in the post-season but would like to add that to their resume. For the Jaguars? It’s a chance to spoil Houston’s party. Houston pulls off the sweep in the series and takes the win and AFC South title, although expect Jacksonville to make things closer than 7.

New York Jets (4-11) at New England (10-5), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 710. A pair of AFL/AFC East rivals meet in Foxboro as the New York J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! and New England Patriots meet at Gillette Stadium.

Green Bay stormed back from a 15-point deficit in the Meadowlands against the New York Jets last Sunday, taking a 44-38 overtime win at Met Life Stadium. Green Bay trailed 21-17 at the break, then proceeded to chip away at the lead that the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! had established in the contest, outscoring GangGreen 27-17 in the final 30 minutes of play in regulation and overtime. Josh Myers would tie the contest up in regulation with 17 left when he connected on a 33 yard field goal and Aaron Rodgers would give the Packers the win in overtime as he and WR Davante Adams connected on a 16-yard TD toss with 6:23 left in the extra period. Green Bay, who won the toss and kept the ball in the entire overtime, outrushed the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! 127-47 and Rodgers threw for 442 yards with a pair of TDs and no interceptions (he was sacked four times), while Sam Darnold threw for 341 yards and three TDs (Darnold had no interceptions and was sacked twice). Green Bay was 5 of 12 on third down try and the Packers kept the ball for 34:19 (including the overtime), while GangGreen was 3 of 11 on third down and kept the ball for 29:18 (both clubs went 2 of 2 on fourth down).

Brady and the New England Patriots took the AFC East title in Foxboro, coming away 26-12 winners at Gillette Stadium over AFC East rival Buffalo last Sunday. The Pats shutout the Bills in the first half as they took a 14-0 lead with them at the intermission and watched the Bills actually outscore New England 12-10 in the final 30 minutes of action. New England outrushed Buffalo 273-72, with Patriots RB Sony Michele running for 116 yards and a TD. Bills QB Josh Allen threw for 217 yards, while Brady threw for 126 yards with a sack (each threw a TD and had a pair of interceptions) for New England. Buffalo went 2 for 12 on third down (the Bills were 0 for 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 24:22, while the Pats kept the ball for 35:38 and went 3 for 12 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth down.

New England went to the Meadowlands in their week 12 contest against the New York Jets and Brady and the Pats would leave Met Life Stadium with a 27-13 win. Tied 10-10 at the break, Brady and the Pats pulled away from the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! in the second half last Sunday afternoon, outscoring them 17-3 in that frame of time. New England outrushed GangGreen 215-74 and Patriots rookie RB Sony Michel looked like his former self when played at Georgia, rushing for 133 yards and a TD, while Brady was Brady, throwing for 283 yards and a pair of TDs, connecting with favorite targets Josh Edelman and Rob Gronkowski on both tosses. New York’s Josh McCown threw for 276 yards with a TD toss to Jevon Kearse but was sacked twice and picked off once. The J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! were 6 for 14 on third down tries (GangGreen was 0 for 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 25:34, while New England ruled the clock and held on to the ball for 34:26, while going 5 for 12 on third down and 1 for 1 on fourth down.

New England was favored by 9 1/2 in the Meadowlands in the week 12 contest on the Sunday after Thanksgiving and the Patroits covered, winning by 14. However, both teams missed the 46 over/under, tallying 40 points. New England’s favored by 13 1/2 in Foxboro and the over/under’s 45 1/2. Could history repeat itself? GangGreen has played some decent football of late and they’ve given New England problems over the years. While the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! make things close, New England comes away with the win at Gillette.

Detroit (5-10) at Green Bay (6-8-1), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 711. A pair of NFC North rivals meet at Lambeau Field as Green Bay hosts Detroit in the season finale for both teams.

Minnesota scored 13 second half points unchallenged as they took care of NFC North rival Detroit 27-9 at Ford Field last Sunday. The Vikings trailed 3-0 at the end of the first quarter, led 14-9 at the break and then floored the gas in the second half to keep their playoff hopes alive. Minnesota outrushed the Lions 100-86 and Kirk Cousins threw for 253 yards and three TDs (two to Kyle Rudolph; Rudolph had 122 yards on nine catches), while Detroit’s Matthew Stafford threw for 116 yards (both men were sacked twice and neither threw an interception) before he was replaced by Matt Cassel. Minnesota went 4 of 13 on third down tries (they were 0 for 1 on fourth down) and held the ball for 28:32, while the struggling Lions ruled the clock and kept the ball for 31:28, going 4 of 16, 1 of 3 on third and fourth downs.

Green Bay stormed back from a 15-point deficit in the Meadowlands against the New York Jets last Sunday, taking a 44-38 overtime win at Met Life Stadium. Green Bay trailed 21-17 at the break, then proceeded to chip away at the lead that the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! had established in the contest, outscoring GangGreen 27-17 in the final 30 minutes of play in regulation and overtime. Josh Myers would tie the contest up in regulation with 17 left when he connected on a 33 yard field goal and Aaron Rodgers would give the Packers the win in overtime as he and WR Davante Adams connected on a 16-yard TD toss with 6:23 left in the extra period. Green Bay outrushed the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! 127-47 and Rodgers threw for 442 yards with a pair of TDs and no interceptions (he was sacked four times), while Sam Darnold threw for 341 yards and three TDs (Darnold had no interceptions and was sacked twice). Green Bay was 5 of 12 on third down try and the Packers kept the ball for 34:19 (including the overtime), while GangGreen was 3 of 11 on third down and kept the ball for 29:18 (both clubs went 2 of 2 on fourth down).

Green Bay dropped a 31-23 decision at Detroit in ther week five meeting in the Motor City. The Packers trailed 24-0 at the intermission but would outscore the Lions 23-7 in the second half. Green Bay outrushed Detroit 98-94 and Aaron Rodgers threw for 442 yards and three TDs, while Lions signal caller Matthew Stafford threw for 183 yards and three TDs (neither threw an interception, Rodgers was sacked four times, Stafford was sacked three times). Green Bay, who fumbled the ball three times at Ford Field, went 3 of 10 on third down (2 of 2 on fourth down) and ruled the clock as they kept the ball for 33:20, while the Lions were 5 of 13 on third down conversions, holding the ball for 26:40.

In the week five contest in the Motor City, while Green Bay was favored by a point, the Lions covered the spread with their 8-point win and both Green Bay and Detroit covered the 51 over/under, tallying 54 points. The Packers are once again favored, this time by 7 1/2 with a 45 over/under. Both clubs have had less than perfect seasons and both want to put their fan bases out of their misery. Green Bay covers the 7 1/2 and wins in the land of beer, cheese and Bratwurst.

Chicago (11-4) at Minnesota (8-6-1), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 717. A pair of NFC North rivals meet in the Twin Cities as Chicago, winners of the NFC North, travel to the Land of 10,000 Lakes to take on the Minnesota Vikings, who have playoff hopes of their own. Both teams were road winners in their contests last week.

Minnesota scored 13 second half points unchallenged as they took care of NFC North rival Detroit 27-9 at Ford Field last Sunday. The Vikings trailed 3-0 at the end of the first quarter, led 14-9 at the break and then floored the gas in the second half to keep their playoff hopes alive. Minnesota outrushed the Lions 100-86 and Kirk Cousins threw for 253 yards and three TDs (two to Kyle Rudolph; Rudolph had 122 yards on nine catches), while Detroit’s Matthew Stafford threw for 116 yards (both men were sacked twice and neither threw an interception) before he was replaced by Matt Cassel. Minnesota went 4 of 13 on third down tries (they were 0 for 1 on fourth down) and held the ball for 28:32, while the struggling Lions ruled the clock and kept the ball for 31:28, going 4 of 16, 1 of 3 on third and fourth downs.

Chicago erased a 9-7 defict at the half at San Francsico as Da Bears came away 14-9 winners at Levis Stadium last Sunday. Chicago, the NFC North champs, took the lead for keeps with 4:14 left in the third quarter when RB Jordan Howard scored on a 2-yard run to lead by 5. The two clubs would then play a scoreless fourth quarter, with Chicago holding off San Francisco to take the road win. Chicago outrushed the 49ers 90-47 and Mitchell Trubisky threw for 246 yards with a TD and no interceptions (Trubisky was sacked three time), while Nate Mullens threw for 241 yards with a sack and an interception in the home finale for San Francisco. Da Bears were 5 for 11 on third down (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 35:30, while the 49ers kept the pigskin for 24:30, going 7 of 14 on third down, 0 for 1 on fourth down.

Mitch Trubisky and Da Bears survived a scare from Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings at Soldier Field, coming away 25-20 winners in the Windy City in their week 12 Sunday night contest. Chicago led 14-3 at the intermission in the NFC North contest before the Vikings would go on in the final 30 minutes to outscore Da Bears 20-11. Trubisky threw for 165 yards with a TD and a pair of interceptions, while Cousins threw for 262 yards with a pair of TDs (Cousins threw a pair of interceptions and was sacked twice, Trubisky was sacked once) in the contest. Chicago outrushed Minnesota 148-22 and went 6 for 12 on third down and kept the ball for 34:29, while the Purple Gang went 5 for 12 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth down and held the ball for 25:31.

Da Bears were favored by 3 in the Windy City and Chicago covered, winning by 5 but both teams BARELY missed the 45 1/2 over/under with 45 points. This time, the Vikings are favored by 5 and the over/under’s 41. Da Bears have already punched their ticket to the post-season, while the Vikings are hoping that the Eagles slip up in Washington. Chicago covers the 5 in the Twin Cities and takes the road win.

Carolina (6-9) at New Orleans (13-3), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 709. Losing seven in a row, the Carolina Panthers limp their way into the Big Easy as they square off with Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints in an NFC South rematch.

The Cam Newton-less Panthers (shoulder) watched Atlanta break a 10-10 tie at the intermission at Bank of America Stadium last Sunday in Charlotte as the Falcons scored 14 third quarter points unchallenged, coming away 24-10 winners over Carolina, who put backup QB Taylor Heinicke under center. Heinicke threw for 274 yards in the contest with a TD but Atlanta sacked him twice and picked him off three times, while Matt Ryan threw for 239 yards with three TDs, connecting with Calvin Ridley, Mohamed Sanu and Julio Jones on those tosses without an interception. Atlanta outrushed Carolina 194-141 with RB Brandon Hill leading all rushers with 115, while Carolina was led by RB Christian McCaffrey with 101 yards in the series sweep. Atlanta was 4 of 10 on third down tries and only needed to hold on to the ball for 22:31, while the Panthers kept the pigskin for 37:29, while going 7 of 14 on third down and 0 for 2 on fourth down.

The Saints clinched home field throughout the playoffs as they held off a late Pittsburgh rally to come away 31-28 winners in the Big Easy last Sunday. New Orleans led 17-14 at the half before the Steelers roared back in the third quarter to take a 28-24 lead at the end of three quarters, thanks to Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown connecting on their second TD toss of the afternoon. New Orleans would reclaim the lead with 85 seconds left in the contest when Brees and WR Michael Thomas connected on a 2-yard TD toss. Pittsburgh would then get the ball back with no time outs and got as close as the Saints’ 42-yard line before fumbling the ball, which New Orleans recovered. The Saints then proceeded to run out the clock and take the win. Pittsburgh outrushed New Orleans 65-57, with Roethlisberger throwing for 364 yards with three TDS and three sacks, while Brees threw for 313 yards with a TD and a pair of sacks. The Steelers were 6 of 13 on third down (they were 1 of 2 on fourth down, while the Saints were 6 of 12) and the clock was on the side of Pittsburgh, who held the ball for 31:20, while the Saints kept the pigskin for 28:40.

The two NFC South foes met two weeks ago in Charlotte on a Monday night and New Orleans survived a 12-9 scare from the Panthers in Charlotte. The Panthers led 7-6 at the intermission at Bank of America Stadium before the Saints would take the lead away from the Panthers when Alvin Kamara scored on a 16-yard run with 12:12 left in the contest. New Orleans then attempted a 2-point conversion to make the contest a five-point affair but Drew Brees’ 2-point attempt to Thomas was picked off by Dante Jackson, who ran the ball back for a defensive two point conversion to keep the Panthers close. Carolina would later get the ball back after New Orleans fumbled it out of the endzone, creating a touchback and giving the Panthers the ball on their 20-yard line. Newton and the Panthers would eventually get as close as their 39-yard line but could not get any closer as Newton’s fourth-down pass attempt was incomplete, which gave the Saints the ball back and New Orleans would run the clock out and take the win. New Orleans outrushed Carolina 155-98 and Newton threw for 131 yards with four sacks, while Brees threw for 203 yards (both men threw an interception, Newton was sacked four times, Brees twice). Carolina was 7 of 15 on third down (the Panther were 1 for 2 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 24:51, while the Saints ruled the clock, holding the ball for 35:09, going 4 of 13 and 1 of 1 on third and fourth downs.

In the Monday night week 15 contest in the Tar Heel State, New Orleans, favored by 6 1/2, did not cover the soread, winning by 3. The two clubs came nowhere near the 52 over/under, tallying only 21 points. New Orleans is favored again, this time by 9 with a 45 over/under. The Saints know they are the one seed and would like a win going into their bye week. Carolina would like nothing more than revenge for their loss in week 15 in Charlotte. Panthers get their wish, making it closer than 9 and coming away with the win from the Big Easy.

Dallas (9-6) at New York Giants (5-10), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 715. Dallas and the New York Giants meet in the Meadowlands in a season-finale for the home team, while the Cowboys advance their way into the post-season.

Dallas celebrate winning the NFC East in Arlington as the Cowboys held off Tampa Bay 27-20 at AT&T Stadium. The Cowboys led 17-13 at the intermission in the Lone Star State, then watched Tampa Bay rally to make the contest a 7-point affair with 2:05 left in regulation when WR Mike Evans and QB Jameis Winston connected on a 7-yard TD toss. Tampa Bay would then attempt an onside kick, which Dallas recovered, allowing them to run the clock out and take the win and the NFC East crown. Dallas outrushed Tampa Bay 80-63, with Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott leading the way with 85 yards and Dak Prescott threw for 161 yards, while Winstron threw for 336 yards (each had a TD pass without an interception, Prescott had a rushing TD and a sack, while Winston was sacked three times). Dallas was 3 of 9 on third down and held the ball for 24:41, while Tampa Bay ruled the clock, holding the ball for 35:19, going 4 of 13 and 1 of 2 on third and fourth down.

Manning and the Giants watched their playoff hopes die and saw Indianapolis and Andrew Luck keep their playoff chances alive after they rallied to take a 29-28 win over Eli Manning and the New York Giants at Lucas Oil Stadium. Big Blue led 17-7 at the half, then the Colts would go on to chip away at the lead and trailed 27- 21 with 55 seconds left when Chester Rogers caught a 1-yard TD pass from Luck to take the lead for the first time and for keeps. The Colts then held off a late Giants rally as Malik Hooker picked Manning off to end the threat and take the win. While the Giants did outrush the Colts 83-49, Luck outpaced Manning, throwing for 357 yards and a pair of TDs (including the game-winner) with a sack, while Manning threw for 309 yards and a TD (both men threw an interception) in the loss. The Colts were 7 of 11 on third down and kept the ball for 28:19, while the Giants, who went 7 of 12 on third down, actually ruled the clock and kept the pigskin for 31:41.

They met in Arlington in week two and the Giants would rally and pull themselves to within three but came up on the short end of a 20-13 loss at Dallas. Big Blue trailed 10-0 at the intermission, then rallied to make the NFC East contest a 3-point affair when K Aldrick Rosas connected on a 38-yard field goal with 11 seconds left. While rushing for 138 yards, Dallas held the Giants to 35 yards on the ground and sacked Manning six times (Mannning threw for 279 yards), while Dak Prescott threw for 160 yards (both Prescott and Manning threw a TD pass) in the win. Dallas was 3 of 10 on third down (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 27:48, while the Giants ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 32:12, going 8 of 17 on third down, 2 of 2 on fourth down.

In the week two contest at Jerry World, Dallas was favored by 3 in the Sunday night contest and they covered, winning by 7. The 42 over/under was left untouched as the two teams would combine for 33 points. In the rematch in the Meadowlands, the Cowboys are favored by 6 1/2 and the over/under’s 42 1/2. The Giants have actually caused problems for Dallas of late and that will be the case this time around. For the Cowboys, it’s second verse, same as the first. Dallas covers the 6 1/2 and wins in the Meadowlands.

Oakland (4-11) at Kansas City (11-4), 4:25 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 715. Round two of this old AFL/AFC West rivalry moves to the midwestern section of the United States as Kansas City hosts the Oakland Raiders at Arrowhead.

The Raiders enter the Sunday afternoon contest in the Show-Me State with a 27-14 win over Denver Christmas Eve. The Raiders in their final home game of the 2018 campaign and perhaps their last game in Oakland took a 17-0 lead at the intermission and despite being outscored 14-10 in the last 30 minutes of play, took control of the contest to take the win. Denver was outrushed by the Silver and Black 114-100 with Raiders RB Doug Martin leading the way with 107 yards and a TD in the contest. Derek Carr threw for 167 yards with no TDs and was sacked once but did not throw an interception, while Denver’s Case Keenum threw for 202 yards with a pair of TDs, a pair of interceptions and a sack. The Silver and Black went 5 of 13 on third down conversions and kept the ball for 30:08, while the Broncos, who kept the ball for 29:52, went 6 of 14 on third down, 1 for 2 on fourth down.

Kansas City looks to restore order and take home field advantage after their 38-31 loss at Seattle last Sunday night. The Chiefs trailed 14-10 at the intermission in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks, then rallied to make it a 7-point contest with 80 seconds left when Harrison Butker connected on a 32-yard field goal. Kansas City then tried an unsuccessful onside kick, which allowed Seattle to recover the ball, run out the clock and take the win. Seattle outrushed the Chiefs 210-154 and Damien Williams led the Chiefs with 103 yards of rushing, while Seattle’s Chris Carson led all rushers with 116 yards and a pair of TDs. Patrick Mahomes threw for 273 yards for Kansas City, while Russell Wilson threw for 271 yards for Seattle (both men threw three TDs without an interception; Wilson was sacked three times, Mahomes sacked once). Kansas City went 5 of 12 on third down (the Chiefs were 1 for 1 on fourth down) and held on to the ball for 24:58, while the Seahawks ruled the clock, keeping the pigskin for 35:02, while going 7 for 14 on third down tries.

They met in week 13 in Oakland and the Chiefs put an end to Oakland’s dwindling playoff hopes in that contest on the West Coast, taking a 40-33 win at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. Kansas City led 19-7, then pulled away after the Silver and Black made it a 9-point contest early in the third quarter. Kansas City outrushed their AFC West rival 174-171 and Mahomes threw for 295 yards with four TDs (connecting with TE Travis Kelce on two of them) and no sacks or interceptions, while Oakland’s Derek Carr threw for 285 yards with three TDs and three sacks. Kansas City was 6 of 13 on third down (Andy Reid’s Chiefs were successful on fourth down, going 1 of 1) and kept the ball for 29:14, while the Raiders ruled the clock and kept the ball for 30:46, going 9 for 12 on third down conversions.

Kansas City was a 15-point favorite in the week 13 contest but managed to win by only 7 on the West Coast. The two AFL/AFC West rivals did manage to cover the 55 1/2 over/under, as the two clubs merged for 73 points. This time, the Chiefs are favored again by 13 1/2 with a 54 over/under. The 54? Reasonable. The 13 1/2? That’s a bit generous. Given the history between these two teams, the Raiders are playing with house money and the Chargers are hoping that they pull off the upset in the Show-Me State. Oakland makes this one interesting but the Chiefs prevail at Arrowhead, becoming the one seed in the process.

Los Angeles Chargers (11-4) at Denver (6-9), 4:25 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 714. The Los Angeles Chargers, fighting to be the one seed in the AFC and having a first-round bye, travels to the Rocky Mountains for a late Sunday afternoon AFL/AFC West meeting with the Denver Broncos.

The Chargers watched Baltimore keep their playoff hopes alive on the West Coast last Saturday evening as the Ravens held off the Chargers 22-10 at Stub Hub Centre. The Ravens led 6-3 at the half against Rivers and the Chargers, then floored the gas in the final 30 minutes of play, reclaiming the lead after the Chargers’ Melvin Gordon scored on a 1-yard run with 13:18 left in the third.

Baltimore would then go on to score their final 16 points of the game unchallenged, with the final tally coming when CB Tavon Young scored on a 62-yard fumble return with 2:40 left as the Chargers were driving to tie the contest up. Baltimore outrushed Los Angeles 159-51, with Jackson throwing for 204 yards and a TD, while Los Angeles’ Philip Rivers threw for 181 yards (Rivers was sacked four times and picked off twice, Jackson was sacked three times but did not throw an interception).
Baltimore went 4 of 14 on third down (they were 1 of 2 on fourth down) and the Ravens held on to the ball for 31:25, while the Chargers held on to the ball for 28:35, going 4 for 13 on thir down tries in the Saturday night contest on the West Coast.

Denver comes back the Mile High City with a 27-14 loss at Oakland on Christmas Eve under their belts. The Broncos could never get themselves on track in the Monday night contest, trailing 17-0 at the intermission, even though they did outscore Oakland 14-10 in the last 30 minutes of play. Denver was outrushed by the Silver and Black 114-100 with Raiders RB Doug Martin leading the way with 107 yards and a TD in the contest. Derek Carr threw for 167 yards with no TDs and was sacked once but did not throw an interception, while Denver’s Case Keenum threw for 202 yards with a pair of TDs, a pair of interceptions and a sack. The Silver and Black went 5 of 13 on third down conversions and kept the ball for 30:08, while the Broncos, who kept the ball for 29:52, went 6 of 14 on third down, 1 for 2 on fourth down.

They met in Los Angeles in week 11 and Denver got a last-second field goal from Brandon McManus to come away 23-22 winners. Los Angeles led 13-7 at the intermission, then led by 2 with 1:51 left when Denver used all of the 1:51 left on the clock, using a 7-play, 76-yard drive that got them into field goal range, with McManus nailing the game-winner from 34 yards away. Denver outrushed the Bolts 108-95 and Keenum threw for 205 yards, while Rivers threw for 401 yards with a pair of TDs (Rivers was sacked three times and threw a pair of interceptions) in the loss at home. The Chargers went 9 for 15 on third down tries at Stub Hub Centre and they would keep the ball for 37:49, while Denver kept the ball for 22:11 (including the final 1:51 of the contest), while going 3 for 10 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth down.

The Chargers were favored by 7 in the week 11 contest at Stub Hub Centre and while Denver took the win, they failed to cover the spread, winning by 1 and neither club touched the 47 over/under, as they merged for 45 points. The odds makers love the Chargers again, this time as 6 1/2 point favorites in the Rocky Mountains and the over/under’s 41 1/2. Denver would love nothing more than to play spoiler and ruin the Chargers’ playoff hopes. As for the Bolts? They know they’re in the post-season party, it’s the top seed they want. They may not get the top seed if Kansas City has anything to say about it but the Chargers leave Denver with the win, covering the 6 1/2.

Cincinnati (6-9) at Pittsburgh (8-6-1), 4:25 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 712. It’s a win or else situaton for Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers as they return to Heinz Field for a rematch with their AFC North rivals from Cincinnati.

Baker Mayfield and Cleveland made it a sweep against Cincinnati as the Browns ended Cincinnati’s playoff hopes as they beat their instate and AFC North rivals 28-16 along the shores of Lake Erie last Sunday afternoon. After a scoreless first quarter, the Browns took a 16-0 lead with them to the break and would increase that lead to 23-0 as the third quarter came to an end before the Bengals would outscore them in the fourth quarter by a 18-3 margin. Cleveland outrushed Cincinnati 146-102 with Browns RB Nick Chubb leading all rushers with 112 yards, while Mayfield threw for 284 yards with three TDs and no interceptions or sacks (the Bengals’ Josh Driskel threw for 133 yards with a pair of TDs and no interceptions but was sacked three times). Cleveland went 5 of 12 on third down and kept the ball for 35:31, while the Bengals kept the pigskin for 24:29 and went 1 for 8 on third down tries (both clubs were 1 for 1 on fourth down)

Pittsburgh watched the New Orleans Saints clinched home field throughout the playoffs as they held off a late Steeler rally to come away 31-28 winners in the Big Easy last Sunday. New Orleans led 17-14 at the half before the Steelers roared back in the third quarter to take a 28-24 lead at the end of three quarters, thanks to Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown connecting on their second TD toss of the afternoon. New Orleans would reclaim the lead with 85 seconds left in the contest when Brees and WR Michael Thomas connected on a 2-yard TD toss. Pittsburgh would then get the ball back with no time outs and got as close as the Saints’ 42-yard line before fumbling the ball, which New Orleans recovered. The Saints then proceeded to run out the clock and take the win. Pittsburgh outrushed New Orleans 65-57, with Roethlisberger throwing for 364 yards with three TDS and three sacks, while Brees threw for 313 yards with a TD and a pair of sacks. The Steelers were 6 of 13 on third down (they were 1 of 2 on fourth down, while the Saints were 6 of 12) and the clock was on the side of Pittsburgh, who held the ball for 31:20, while the Saints kept the pigskin for 28:40.

They met along the shores of the Ohio River in Cincinnati saw a 21-20 lead late in their contest with AFC North rival Pittsburgh evaporate as Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger and WR Antonio Brown hooked up on a 31-yard TD pass to take a 28-21 win out of the Queen City in their week six meeting. Tied 14-14 at the intermission, then trailing 17-14 after three quarters of football. the Bengals and Andy Dalton (229 yards, two TDs, no interceptions) would take a 21-20 lead with 78 seconds left when HB Joe Mixon (64 yards) scored from a yard away. That lead and hopes of a win over their hated AFC North rivals would not last long as the Steelers used a 7-play, 77-yard drive that took 68 seconds of clock to reclaim the lead with the Brown catch and run (Roethlisberger and WR JuJu Smith-Schuester would connect on the two point conversion). Cincinnati would have one last chance to reclaim the lead and restore order but Dalton’s pass attempt with five seconds left fell short of its intended mark. Pittsburgh outrushed the Bengals 112-62 and Roethlisberger threw for 369 yards with no sacks or interceptions, while Steelers RB James Conner led the way with 111 yards and a pair of TDs. Cincinnati went 6 of 12 on third down and held on to the ball for 25:04, while the Steelers were 8 of 14 on third down, holding the ball for 34:56.

Cincinnati was favored by 2 1/2 points in their week six contest and the Steelers covered, winning by 7. Both teams missed the 53 over/under as the two clubs combined for 49 points. This time, the Steelers are a 14-point favorite in western Pennsylvania and the over/under’s 45 1/2. The 45 1/2 makes sense. The 14 points? That’s a little steep, considering that this is the regular season finale for both clubs. The Bengals would like to repeat what they did in Baltimore last year and put another team out of the post-season but the Steelers are not going to have any of it at Heinz Field. Steelers win the AFC North, although expect the Bengals to make it closer than 14.

Philadelphia (8-7) at Washington (7-8), 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 718. It’s round two as a pair of NFC East rivals meet in Landover, with the Eagles hoping to come away with a playoff spot, while the Redskins look to damage the Eagles’ chances to repeate as Super Bowl champs.

The defending Super Bowl champs needed to rally in the final two minutes of their contest with the Houston Texans to take a 32-30 last-second win at Lincoln Financial Field last Sunday afternoon to keep their slim playoff hopes alive, while putting a dent in Houston’s post-season hopes. Houston led 16-13 at the break in the City of Brotherly Love, then watched Philadelphia take a 23-16 lead into the final quarter of play before storming back to reclaim the lead with 2:04 left when rookie WR Vyncint Smith caught a 35-yard TD pass from DeSean Watson to take a 30-29 lead. Philadelphia would then proceed to march down the field, using 11 plays, 72 yards and all of the 2:04 left on the clock when K Jake Elliott connected on a 35-yard field goal as time expired, denying the Texans a chance to win the AFC South. Houston outrushed Philadephia 62-57 with Watson leading all rushers with 49 yards and a pair of rushing TDs and threw for 339 yards and a pair of passing TDs (Watson was sacked four times but did not throw an interception), while Eagles back up QB Nick Foles threw for 471 yards and four TDs, connecting with TE Zach Ertz on two of those passes. Houston was 3 for 10 on third down (the Texans were 0 for 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 26:15, while the defending Super Bowl champs kept their playoff hopes alive, going 9 for 16 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down and held the ball for 33:45 (including the final 2:04 of the contest).

Washington’s playoff hopes were damaged in the Music City last Saturday afternoon as Tennessee came away 25-18 winners at Nissan Stadium. Washington led 10-9 at the half and would later held on to a 16-12 lead halfway through the final quarter of play before Tennessee rallied in the fourth when Matt Pruitt caught a 7-yard TD toss from backup QB Blaine Gabbert (who took over for Marcus Mariota, who left the contest with an arm injury) with 4:30 left, then put the contest away as time expired when CB Malcom Butler scored on a 56-yard interception return as Washington was threatening. Washington outrushed Tennessee 161-99, with Redskins RB Adrian Peterson leading the way with 119 yards. Gabbert threw for 101 yards and the winnning score (Mariota threw for 110 yards with a pair of sacks and no interceptions, Gabbert was sacked once), while Washington QB Jeff Johnson threw for 153 yards in the loss with a pair of sacks and a pair of interceptions. Washington went 8 of 14 on third down and kept the ball for 33:03, while Tennesse, who held on to the pigskin for 26:57, going 5 for 11 on third down tries.

Philadelphia and Washington met in the City of Brotherly Love in week 13 on a Monday night and the defending Super Bowl champs came away 28-13 winners at Lincoln Financial Field. Philadelphia took a 14-13 lead with them to the break, then scored 14 fourth-quarter points without a challenge (the two teams went scoreless in the third) to take control of things, using a 4-yard TD pass from Carson Wentz to Josh Matthews, a Wentz to Golden Tate two-point conversion and a pair of Elliot field goals to take the win. Philadelphia outrushed Washington 130-104 and Wentz threw for 306 yards and a pair of TDs, while the Eagles’ defense knocked Colt McCoy (50 yards, sack) out of the contest, forcing Washington to replace him with Mark Sanchez, who threw for 100 yards. Philadelphia went 7 of 13 on third down (they were 0 for 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 39:19, while the Redskins held on to the pigskin for 20:41, going 2 of 10 on third down.

In the week 13 Monday night contest, Philadelphia covered the 6 1/2 point spread, winning by 16 but both clubs barely missed the 44 over/under by 3 points. The odds makers like the defending Super Bowl champs as 6 1/2 point favorites in Landover with a 42 over/under. The Eagles want a chance to defend their title, Washington wants to crash their party. Fly, Eagles Fly! The defending Super Bowl champs make their way to the playoffs with the road win and covers the 6 1/2.

Cleveland (7-7-1) at Baltimore (9-6), 4:25 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 713. The Baltimore Ravens return home to Charm City with their playoff hopes in tact as they take on Baker Mayfield and the resurging Cleveland Browns at M&T Bank Stadium in a late Sunday afternoon contest. Both teams were winners in last week’s action.

Mayfield made it a sweep against Cincinnati as they beat their instate and AFC North rivals 28-16 along the shores of Lake Erie last Sunday afternoon. After a scoreless first quarter, the Browns took a 16-0 lead with them to the break and would increase that lead to 23-0 as the third quarter came to an end before the Bengals would outscore them in the fourth quarter by a 18-3 margin. Cleveland outrushed Cincinnati 146-102 with Browns RB Nick Chubb leading all rushers with 112 yards, while Mayfield threw for 284 yards with three TDs and no interceptions or sacks (the Bengals’ Josh Driskel threw for 133 yards with a pair of TDs and no interceptions but was sacked three times). Cleveland went 5 of 12 on third down and kept the ball for 35:31, while the Bengals kept the pigskin for 24:29 and went 1 for 8 on third down tries (both clubs were 1 for 1 on fourth down)

Baltimore kept their playoff hopes alive on the West Coast last Saturday evening as they held off the Los Angeles Chargers 22-10 at Stub Hub Centre. The Ravens led 6-3 at the half against Rivers and the Chargers, then floored the gas in the final 30 minutes of play, reclaiming the lead after the Chargers’ Melvin Gordon scored on a 1-yard run with 13:18 left in the third.

Baltimore would then go on to score their final 16 points of the game unchallenged, with the final tally coming when CB Tavon Young scored on a 62-yard fumble return with 2:40 left as the Chargers were driving to tie the contest up. Baltimore outrushed Los Angeles 159-51, with Jackson throwing for 204 yards and a TD, while Los Angeles’ Philip Rivers threw for 181 yards (Rivers was sacked four times and picked off twice, Jackson was sacked three times but did not throw an interception).
Baltimore went 4 of 14 on third down (they were 1 of 2 on fourth down) and the Ravens held on to the ball for 31:25, while the Chargers held on to the ball for 28:35, going 4 for 13 on thir down tries in the Saturday night contest on the West Coast.

Baltimore and Cleveland met in week 5 along the shores of Lake Erie and the Browns went into an overtime contest at home but this time, Cleveland prevailed as they escaped with a 12-9 win over Baltimore along the shores of Lake Erie in week five. Cleveland led 6-3 at the break before the Ravens would rally in the third and fourth quarters to even things up, thanks to a pair of Jeff Tucker field goals in the second half. Cleveland’s Rashard Higgins would score the game’s only TD when he and rookie QB Baker Mayfield connected on a 19-yard TD pass with 40 seconds left before the intermission. Greg Joseph would miss the extra point but would kick two more field goals, including the game-winner with two seconds left in overtime to take the win. While Baltimore outrushed Cleveland 116-112, Mayfield threw for 342 yards, with Baltimore’s Joe Flacco throwing for 298 yards (Flacco was sacked twice, Mayfield was sacked five times and each man threw an interception) in the overtime contest. The Ravens were 4 of 16 on third down (Baltimore was 1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 33:42, while the Browns, who picked up their first win on a Sunday since December of 2015, kept the ball for 36:16 (including the overtime) and went 6 of 19 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth down conversions. Cleveland’s three overtime games in 2018 ties them for most by team in 1st 5 games of season since regular season overtime rule was adopted in 1974.

In the week five contest along the shores of Lake Erie, the Ravens were favored by 3 and the Browns covered, winning by that margin. The 19 combined points, including the overtime, did not touch the 47 over/under. In this meeting that could either give the Browns their first winning season since 2007 or the Ravens the AFC North title, Baltimore’s favored by 6 in Charm City and the over/under’s 41. The Ravens remember the last time they were in this situation and the Buffalo Bills were thankful to Cincinnati as they knocked Baltimore out of the 2017 post-season party. Pittsburgh fans will be pulling for Cleveland to win this one and they’re going to be rewarded. Baltimore will make this one close but Cleveland makes history and Steeler fans happy as they take the win in Charm City.

San Francisco (4-11) at Los Angeles Rams (12-3), 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 719. They met in northern California in week seven. This time, it’s San Francisco’s turn to make the 346-mile trip down I-5 to face off against the Los Angeles Rams in a late afternoon West Coast contest.

San Francisco watched a 9-7 lead at the half against Chicago vanish as Da Bears came away 14-9 winners at Levis Stadium last Sunday. The defending NFC North champs took the lead for keeps with 4:14 left in the third quarter when RB Jordan Howard scored on a 2-yard run to lead by 5. The two clubs would then play a scoreless fourth quarter, with Chicago holding off San Francisco to take the road win. Chicago outrushed the 49ers 90-47 and Mitchell Trubisky threw for 246 yards with a TD and no interceptions (Trubisky was sacked three time), while Nate Mullens threw for 241 yards with a sack and an interception in the home finale for San Francisco. Da Bears were 5 for 11 on third down (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 35:30, while the 49ers kept the pigskin for 24:30, going 7 of 14 on third down, 0 for 1 on fourth down.

The Rams took care of business last Sunday in Glendale, with the defending NFC West Champs taking a 31-9 win at State Farm Stadium over the Arizona Cardinals. Los Angeles led 21-9 at the break, then shut out the Desert Angry Birds, as Los Angeles scored their last 10 points of the contest without a challenge. The Rams easily outrushed Arizona 269-104, with Los Angeles RB Chris Anderson leading the way with 167 yards and a TD. Rams QB Jared Goff threw for 216 yards with a TD and no interceptions, while Josh Rosen threw for 87 yards and was sacked four times (Goff was sacked once). The Rams were 6 for 9 on third down tries and ruled the clock, as they held on to the ball for 37:04, while the Desert Angry Birds kept the ball for 22:56, while going 2 of 11 and 1 of 2 on third and fourth downs.

The Rams kept themselves in the ranks of the unbeatens after they took care of San Francisco 39-10 in Santa Clara in their week seven contest in Santa Clara. The defending NFC West champions led 22-7 at the intermission and held San Francisco to a 51-yard field goal by Robbie Gould late in the third quarter. Rams RB Todd Gurley ran for a pair of TDs and caught a TD pass from Jared Goff as Los Angeles outrushed San Francisco 146-107 (Gurley ran for 63 yards, while Goff threw for 202 yards with a pair of TDs and a pair of sacks), while San Francisco’s C.J. Beatherd threw for 170 yards with a pair of TDs and seven sacks. The Rams were 5 for 12 on third down tries and held the ball for 32:51. San Francisco kept the ball for 27:09 in the loss at Santa Clara and went 3 of 11, 0 of 1 on third and fourth downs.

The Rams easily covered the 10 1/2-oint spread in wine country, winning by 21 but both teams missed the 54 over/under as they merged for 49 points. The powers that be in Vegas like the Rams again, this time as 10-point favorites, with the over/under at 50. While the 49ers have struggled this year, they’ll make this one a bit tougher for the Rams. However… the Rams close out the 2018 season with the win at home and could cover the 10.

Arizona (3-12) at Seattle (9-6), 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 716. They go from the desert to the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks. Seattle and Arizona meet at Century Link Field in the season finale for both clubs.

The Desert Angry Birds got their feathers ruffled by the Los Angeles Rams last Sunday in Glendale, with the defending NFC West Champs taking a 31-9 win at State Farm Stadium. Arizona trailed 21-9 at the break, then watched the Rams shut them out, as Los Angeles scored their last 10 points of the contest without a challenge. The Rams easily outrushed Arizona 269-104, with Los Angeles RB Chris Anderson leading the way with 167 yards and a TD. Rams QB Jared Goff threw for 216 yards with a TD and no interceptions, while Josh Rosen threw for 87 yards and was sacked four times (Goff was sacked once). The Rams were 6 for 9 on third down tries and ruled the clock, as they held on to the ball for 37:04, while the Desert Angry Birds kept the ball for 22:56, while going 2 of 11 and 1 of 2 on third and fourth downs.

Seattle restored order last Sunday night against Pat Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs, coming away 38-31 winners at Seattle last Sunday night. Seattle led 14-10 at the intermission in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks, then watched the Chiefs rally to make it a 7-point contest with 80 seconds left when Harrison Butker connected on a 32-yard field goal. Kansas City then tried an unsuccessful onside kick, which allowed Seattle to recover the ball, run out the clock and take the win. Seattle outrushed the Chiefs 210-154 and Damien Williams led the Chiefs with 103 yards of rushing, while Seattle’s Chris Carson led all rushers with 116 yards and a pair of TDs. Patrick Mahomes threw for 273 yards for Kansas City, while Russell Wilson threw for 271 yards for Seattle (both men threw three TDs without an interception; Wilson was sacked three times, Mahomes sacked once). Kansas City went 5 of 12 on third down (the Chiefs were 1 for 1 on fourth down) and held on to the ball for 24:58, while the Seahawks ruled the clock, keeping the pigskin for 35:02, while going 7 for 14 on third down tries.

Seattle went down to the wire in Glendale against the Desert Angry Birds before leaving the desert 20-17 winners, thanks to a 52-yard field goal by Sebastian Janikowski as time expired in their week four meeting. Arizona led 10-7 at the break before Seattle would rally to take a 17-10 lead with 60 seconds left in the third quarter. That lead would not last long as Arizona would tie things back up with 8:59 left in regulation when WR Chad Williams and QB Josh Rosen connected on a 22-yard TD strike. That would keep things even until Seattle got the ball back with 1:50 left to play and used all of that 1:50 to go on a 7-play, 31-yard drive which allowed the veteran Janikowski to boot the game winner as time expired. Seattle outrushed the Desert Angry Birds 171-92, with Seahawks RB Mike Davis leading the way with 101 yards and a pair of TDs in the win. Seahawks QB Russell Wilson threw for 172 yards and no interceptions (two sacks), while Rosen threw for 180 yards and the lone TD. The Seahawks on third down were 0 for 10 on third down but were 1 of 2 on fourth down tries and held the ball for 31:46 (which included the final 1:50 of the game), while the Cardinals were 5 of 12 on third down and kept the ball for 28:14.

Seattle covered the 3-point spread in the desert with their 3-point win in Glendale but both teams failed to cover the 39 over/under, missing by 2 points. Seattle’s a huge favorite in this one. How huge, you ask? 13 1/2 points with a 38 1/2 over/under. The 38 1/2 makes sense. The 13 1/2? Even though the Cardinals are bad, they’re not 13 1/2 bad. They’ll give Seattle some problems but the Seahawks win in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks.

Indianapolis (9-6) at Tennessee (9-6), 8:20 p.m. on NBC. It’s ‘Winner Take All” in the final Sunday night game of the 2018 season as Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts make their way to Nashville to face off against Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee Titans. Both teams were close winners at home in their contests last Sunday.

The Colts kept their playoff chances alive after they rallied to take a 29-28 win over Eli Manning and the New York Giants at Lucas Oil Stadium. Indianapolis trailed 17-7 at the half, then the Colts would go on to chip away at the lead and trailed 27- 21 with 55 seconds left when Chester Rogers caught a 1-yard TD pass from Luck to take the lead for the first time and for keeps. The Colts then held off a late Giants rally as Malik Hooker picked Manning off to end the threat and take the win. While the Giants did outrush the Colts 83-49, Luck outpaced Manning, throwing for 357 yards and a pair of TDs (including the game-winner) with a sack, while Manning threw for 309 yards and a TD (both men threw an interception) in the loss. The Colts were 7 of 11 on third down and kept the ball for 28:19, while the Giants, who went 7 of 12 on third down, actually ruled the clock and kept the pigskin for 31:41.

Tennessee damaged Washington’s playoff hopes in the Music City last Saturday afternoon as the Titans came away 25-18 winners at Nissan Stadium. Tennessee trailed 10-9 at the half and would later found themselves trailing 16-12 halfway through the final quarter of play before rallied in the fourth when Matt Pruitt caught a 7-yard TD toss from backup QB Blaine Gabbert (who took over for Mariota, who left the contest with an arm injury) with 4:30 left, then put the contest away as time expired when CB Malcom Butler scored on a 56-yard interception return as Washington was threatening. Washington outrushed Tennessee 161-99, with Redskins RB Adrian Peterson leading the way with 119 yards. Gabbert threw for 101 yards and the winnning score (Mariota threw for 110 yards with a pair of sacks and no interceptions, Gabbert was sacked once), while Washington QB Jeff Johnson threw for 153 yards in the loss with a pair of sacks and a pair of interceptions. Washington went 8 of 14 on third down and kept the ball for 33:03, while Tennesse, who held on to the pigskin for 26:57, going 5 for 11 on third down tries.

They met in the Hoosier State in week 12 and Tennessee watched Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts win their fourth in a row, as the Colts went on to take down Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee Titans 38-10 at Lucas Oil Stadium. Tennessee trailed 24-3 at the break and were never ble to get themselves on track, as the Titans were outscored by the Colts 14-7 in the final 30 minutes of action. Indy outrushed Tennessee 102-87 and Luck threw for 297 yards with three TDs and no sacks or interceptions, while Mariota threw for 85 yards with four sacks and a pick before being replaced by Blaine Gabbert, who threw for 118 yards and a TD (Gabbert threw an interception and was sacked once). The Colts went 5 of 10 on third down conversions at Lucas Oil Stadium last Sunday and kept the ball for 31:16, while Tennessee kept the pigskin for 28:44, going 6 for 14 on third down (neither had a fourth down try).

The Colts’ 28-point win in the Hoosier State allowed them to cover the 2 1/2 point spread and both teams covered the 48 over/under in that week 12 contest. The boys and girls in Vegas like the Colts again, this time as 3 point favorites and the over/under’s 43 1/2. The winner? They get to be the six seed in the AFC playoffs. The loser? They get to clean out their lockers, as their next game is in 2019. For the Colts, six is a great number, Indy covers the 3 on the road and wins in the Music City.

With three weeks remaining in the regular season, the suspense continues to build as teams make their final playoff push. Entering Week 15, 26 teams remain in contention for a trip to Super Bowl LIII, tied for the fourth-most such teams with three weeks remaining in a season since the league expanded to a 16-game schedule in 1978.

Two teams have clinched division titles – the NFC West champion Los Angeles Rams and the NFC South champion New Orleans Saints – and five additional teams can clinch their respective divisions this week: Chicago (9-4), Dallas (8-5), Houston (9-4), Kansas City (11-2) and New England (9-4).

As the league enters Week 15, there are 20 teams either in or within one game of a playoff spot, including 11 teams that did not advance to the postseason in 2017. Since the 12-team playoff format began in 1990, at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before (In other words, even Cleveland has hope).

Two teams that finished in or tied for last place in their division in 2017 – Chicago (NFC North) and Houston (AFC South) – are currently in first place in their respective divisions this season. In 14 of the past 15 seasons, at least one team finished in first place in its division the season after finishing in last or tied for last place. Of the 46 teams in league history to go from “worst-to-first,” 23 of them have done so in the past 15 years (2003-17), including an NFL-record three such teams in 2005 and 2006.

One thing is certain – the closing weeks of the 2018 NFL season will feature competitive contests across the board. Fifty-nine games have been decided by three points or fewer this season, the most in league annals through Week 14. Sixty-eight percent of all games (142 of 208) have been within one score (eight points or fewer) in the fourth quarter this year and 112 games have been decided by eight or fewer points, tied for the fourth-most through the first 14 weeks of a season in league history.

SEVEN FROM SUNDAY:

•New Orleans defeated Tampa Bay, 28-14, and clinched the NFC South division title for the second-consecutive season. New Orleans has won back-to-back division titles for the first time in franchise history.

Kansas City clinched a playoff berth with a 27-24 overtime victory over Baltimore. The Chiefs advance to the postseason for the fourth-consecutive season.

•Miami defeated New England, 34-33, on the final play from scrimmage, as running back Kenyan Drake took a lateral from wide receiver De Vante Parker 52 yards for a touchdown as time expired.

The Dolphins’ game-winning 69-yard touchdown was the longest play from scrimmage to win a game with no time remaining in the fourth quarter since the 1970 merger.

Dolphins running back Frank Gore recorded 116 scrimmage yards (92 rushing, 24 receiving) in the team’s victory. Gore, who has 18,530 career scrimmage yards, surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer La Dainian Tomlinson (18,456) for the fifth-most scrimmage yards in NFL history. The four players with more scrimmage yards than Gore are all enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame: Jerry Rice (23,540), Emmitt Smith (21,579), Walter Payton (21,264) and Marshall Faulk (19,154).

•Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes completed 35 of 53 passes (66.0 percent) for 377 yards with two touchdowns and one interception for a 91.5 passer rating in the Chiefs’ 27-24 overtime victory over Baltimore.

Mahomes, who was selected in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, leads the NFL with 4,300 passing yards and 43 touchdown passes this season. Mahomes joined Pro Football Hall of Famers Dan Marino (1984) and Kurt Warner (1999) as the only first-or-second year quarterbacks in league annals with at least 4,000 passing yards and 40 touchdown passes in a single season.

Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce had seven catches for 77 yards and one touchdown in the victory. Kelce has 86 catches and 1,159 receiving yards this season and is the first tight end in league annals with at least 80 receptions and 1,000 receiving yards in three consecutive seasons.

Kansas City defensive lineman Chris Jones recorded a sack in the win and has at least one sack in each of the Chiefs’ past nine games. Jones is the first player to record a sack in at least nine consecutive games in a single season since the individual sack became an official statistic in 1982. He is the sixth player since 1982 to record at least one sack in nine consecutive games at any point in time.

•Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers completed 21 of 32 passes (65.6 percent) for 196 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions for a 103.1 passer rating in the Packers’ 34-20 victory over Atlanta. Rodgers, who has not thrown an interception in 368 pass attempts dating back to Week 4, surpassed Tom Brady (358 consecutive attempts from 2010-11) for the most consecutive pass attempts without an interception in NFL history.

•New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning passed for 197 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions for a 132.0 passer rating and rookie running back Saquon Barkley rushed for 170 yards with one touchdown in the team’s 40-16 victory at Washington. Manning has 55,142 career passing yards and became the seventh quarterback in NFL history to throw for at least 55,000 passing yards.

Barkley, who scored on a 78-yard touchdown run, has five scrimmage touchdowns of at least 50 yards this season, the most by a rookie in a single season since Pro Football Hall of Famer Randy Moss (five touchdowns in 1998). Only Billy Howton of the 1952 Green Bay Packers had more such touchdowns as a rookie in a single season (six).

Barkley has 12 games with at least 100 scrimmage yards in 2018, tying Edgerrin James (12 games in 1999) for the second-most games with 100+ scrimmage yards by a rookie in NFL history. Only Pro Football Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson (13 games in 1983) has more such games.

•New Orleans wide receiver Michael Thomas had 11 receptions for 98 yards in the Saints’ 28-14 victory at Tampa Bay.

Thomas, who has 298 receptions since entering the league in 2016, surpassed Odell Beckham, Jr. (288 catches from 2014-16) and Jarvin Landry (288 catches from 2014-16) for the most catches by a player in his first three seasons in NFL history.

•Other notable performances from last Sunday include:

New England quarterback Tom Brady passed for 358 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions for a 112.4 passer rating in the Patriots’ Week 14 loss at Miami.

Brady has 582 career touchdown passes (including the postseason) and surpassed Peyton Manning (579) for the most touchdown passes in NFL history. Brady has 47 career games with at least 300 passing yards and three touchdown passes and surpassed Manning (46 games) for the second-most such games in league annals. Only Drew Brees (63) has more such games in NFL history.

San Francisco tight end George Kittle had seven catches for 210 yards, including an 85-yard touchdown catch, in the 49ers’ 20-14 victory over Denver. Kittle’s 210 receiving yards are the third-most by a tight end in a single game in NFL history, trailing only Pro Football Hall of Famers Shannon Sharpe (214 receiving yards on October 20, 2002) and Jackie Smith (212 on October 13, 1963).

Cleveland rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield completed 18 of 22 passes (81.8 percent) for 238 yards with one touchdown and zero interceptions for a 126.9 passer rating in the Browns’ 26-20 victory over Carolina.

Mayfield has thrown at least one touchdown pass in each of his first 10 career starts and joined Pro Football Hall of Famer Kurt Warner (1999) and Brad Johnson (1996-97) as the only quarterbacks in the Super Bowl era with a touchdown pass in each of his first 10 career starts.

Atlanta wide receiver Julio Jones had eight catches for 106 yards and two touchdowns in the Falcons’ loss at Green Bay.

Jones leads the NFL with 1,429 receiving yards this season and has recorded at least 1,400 receiving yards in each of the past five seasons, the longest streak in NFL history.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN WEEK 15:

WORST TO FIRST: Entering Week 15, two teams have clinched division titles – the NFC West champion Los Angeles Rams and NFC South champion New Orleans – and five additional teams can clinch their respective divisions this week: Chicago (9-4), Dallas (8-5), Houston (9-4), Kansas City (11-2) and New England (9-4).

As the league enters Week 15, there are 20 teams either in or within one game of a playoff spot, including 11 teams that did not advance to the postseason in 2017. Since the 12-team playoff format began in 1990, at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before.

Two teams that finished in or tied for last place in their division in 2017 – Chicago (NFC North) and Houston (AFC South) – are currently in first place in their respective divisions this season. In 14 of the past 15 seasons, at least one team finished in first place in its division the season after finishing in last or tied for last place. Of the 46 teams in league history to go from “worst-to-first,” 23 of them have done so in the past 15 years (2003-17), including an NFL-record three such teams in 2005 and 2006.​

HEY, ROOKIE: Denver rookie linebacker Bradley Chubb leads all rookies and is tied for sixth in the NFL with 12 sacks this season.

With a sack against Cleveland on Saturday night at 8:20 p.m. on NFL Network, Chubb would tie Dwight Freeney (13 sacks in 2002) for the third-most sacks by a rookie in a single season since 1982, when the individual sack became an official statistic.​

The rookies with the most sacks in a single season since 1982:​​

PLAYER – TEAM (YEAR, SACKS)
Jevon Kearse – Tennessee (1999, 14.5)#
Aldon Smith – San Francisco (2011, 14)
Dwight Freeney – Indianapolis (2002, 13)
Bradley Chubb – Denver (2018, 12)*
#Named Associated Press Defensive Rookie of the Year
*Entering Week 15

JULIO ON THE RISE: Atlanta wide receiver Julio Jones leads the NFL with 1,429 receiving yards this season. In Week 13, Jones became the first player in NFL history to record at least 1,400 receiving yards in five consecutive seasons.

Jones, who had 1,593 receiving yards in 2014 and 1,871 receiving yards in 2015, needs 71 receiving yards on Sunday against Arizona at 1 p.m. on FOX, to become the fifth player in NFL history with three career seasons with at least 1,500 receiving yards.

The players with the most career seasons with at least 1,500 receiving yards in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASONS WITH 1,500+ RECEIVING YARDS)
Jerry Rice, San Francisco (4)^
Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh (3)
Marvin Harrison, Indianapolis (3)^
Andre Johnson, Houston (3)
Julio Jones, ATLANTA (2)*
^Pro Football Hall of Famer
*Has 1,429 receiving yards this season

STARS FROM SCRIMMAGE: Dallas running back EZEKIEL ELLIOTT leads the NFL with 1,262 rushing yards this season.

Elliott, who has 3,876 rushing yards and 1,134 receiving yards since entering the league in 2016, needs 124 rushing yards on Sunday at Indianapolis at 1 p.m. on FOX to become the fifth player in NFL history with at least 4,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards in his first three seasons. ​

The players with at least 4,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards in their first three seasons in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASONS)(RUSHING YARDS)(RECIEVING YARDS)
Chris Johnson, Tennessee (Tennessee)(2008-2010)(4,598)(1,008)
LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego (2001-2003)(4,564)(1,581)^
Ottis Anderson, St. Louis Cardinals (1979-1981)(4,333)(1,003)
Barry Sanders, Detroit (1989-1991)(4,322)(1,069)
Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas (Dallas)(2016-2018)(3,876)(1,134)*
^Pro Football Hall of Famer
*In third season

BRILLIANT BARKLEY: New York Giants rookie running back Saquon Barkley leads all rookies with 1,753 scrimmage yards and has 13 touchdowns (nine rushing, four receiving) this season.

With 147 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns on Sunday against Tennessee at 1 p.m. on CBS, Barkley, can become the fifth rookie with at least 1,900 scrimmage yards and 15 touchdowns in a single season in NFL history. ​

The rookies with at least 1,900 scrimmage yards and 15 touchdowns in a single season in NFL history:​​

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON)(SCRIMMAGE YARDS-TOUCHDOWNS)
Eric Dickerson, Los Angeles Rams (1983)(2,212-20)^#
Edgerrin James, Indianapolis (1999)(2,139-17)#
Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas (2016)(1,994-16)
Billy Sims, Detroit (1980)(1,924-16)*#
Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (2018)(1,753-13)*
^Pro Football Hall of Famer
#Named Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year
*Entering Week 15

LIGHTS, KAMARA, ACTION: New Orleans running back Alvin Kamara ranks sixth in the NFL with 1,384 scrimmage yards this season.

Kamara, who had 1,554 scrimmage yards as a rookie in 2017, needs 83 receiving yards at Carolina on Monday Night Football at 8:15 p.m. on ESPN, to join Herschel Walker (1986-87) as the only players in NFL history with at least 1,500 rushing and 1,500 receiving yards in their first two seasons in league history. ​

The players with at least 1,500 rushing and 1,500 receiving yards in their first two seasons in league history:​
PLAYER, TEAM: SEASONS (RUSHING YARDS; RECEIVING YARDS)
Herschel Walker, Dallas: 1986-87 (1,628; 1,552)
Alvin Kamara, New Orleans; 2017-18 (1,521; 1,417)*
*In second season

SUPERCAM: Carolina quarterback Cam Newton ranks third among NFL quarterbacks with 473 rushing yards this season. Newton has rushed for at least 500 rushing yards in six of his first seven seasons in the league.

With 27 rushing yards against New Orleans on Monday Night Football (8:15 PM ET, ESPN), Newton can become the first quarterback in NFL history with at least 500 rushing yards in seven seasons.​

The quarterbacks with the most seasons with at least 500 rushing yards in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAMS (SEASONS WITH 500+ RUSHING YARDS)
Randall Cunningham – Philadelphia (6)
Cam Newton – Carolina (6)*
Michael Vick – Atlanta and Philadelphia (6)
*Has 473 rushing yards this season

Highlights of the Week 15 schedule for Sunday and Monday:

Green Bay and Chicago meet at Soldier Field on Sunday at 1 p.m. on FOX for the 198th time in series history, including the postseason. In their Kickoff Weekend meeting, Bears linebacker Khalil Mack recorded a sack, forced fumble, fumble recovery and interception-return touchdown but Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw three fourth-quarter touchdown passes to lead Green Bay to a 24-23 victory at Lambeau Field. Packers wide receiver Davante Adams ties for the league lead with 12 touchdown catches this season and aims for his fourth consecutive game with a score. Chicago’s defense recorded four interceptions and three sacks in holding the Rams to 214 total net yards in the team’s 15-6 victory over Los Angeles in Week 14.

Dallas, winners of five consecutive games, take on Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium at 1 p.m. on FOX. Dallas leads the NFC East and can clinch the division title with a win. Cowboys quarterback DAK PRESCOTT has 993 passing yards (331 per game) with six touchdowns and two interceptions for a 113.6 passer rating in his past three games and wide receiver Amari Cooper has 642 receiving yards and six touchdown catches in six games since being acquired by Dallas this season. Colts rookie linebacker Darius Leonard leads the NFL with 135 tackles this season and is one of only three players since 2000 with at least 130 tackles and seven sacks (seven) in a single season, joining Tampa Bay’s LAVONTE DAVID (2013) and Arizona’s Daryl Washington (2012).

A battle of division leaders in the AFC takes center stage on Sunday afternoon at 4:25 p.m. on CBS as New England faces  Pittsburgh at Heinz Field. Last week, New England quarterback Tom Brady (582 career touchdown passes) surpassed Peyton Manning (579) for the most touchdown passes in league history, including the postseason. Pittsburgh’s Ju Ju Smith-Schuster (91 catches) and Antonio Brown (86) are the only pair of AFC teammates with at least 85 receptions each this season.

2018 NFL SUNDAY PLAYOFF SCENARIOS FOR WEEK 15

NFC

CLINCHED: Los Angeles Rams – NFC West; New Orleans – NFC South division title; Kansas City – Playoff Spot; Los Angeles Chagers – Playoff Spot

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (11-2) at Carolina (6-7), 8:15 Monday on ESPN

New Orleans clinches a first-round bye with:

1) New Orleans win + Chicago loss or tie OR

2) New Orleans tie + Chicago loss

Los Angeles Rams (11-2) vs. Philadelphia (6-7), 8:20 Sunday night on NBC

Los Angeles clinches a first-round bye with:

1) Los Angeles Rams win + Chicago loss or tie OR

2) Los Angeles Rams tie + Chicago loss

Chicago (9-4) vs. Green Bay (5-7-1), 1 p.m. Sunday on FOX

Chicago clinches NFC North division title with:

1) Chicago win OR

2) Minnesota loss OR

3) Chicago tie + MIN tie

Chicago clinches a playoff berth with:

1) Chicago tie OR

2) Washington loss or tie

Dallas (8-5) at Indianapolis (7-6), 1 p.m. Sunday on FOX

Dallas clinches NFC East division title with:

1) Dallas win OR

2) Dallas tie + Philadelphia loss or tie + Washington loss or tie OR

3) Philadelphia loss + Washington loss

Seattle (8-5) at San Francisco (3-10), 4:05 p.m. Sunday on FOX

Seattle clinches a playoff berth with:

1) Seattle win OR

2) Seattle tie + Minnesota loss + Carolina loss or tie OR

3) Seattle tie + Minnesota loss + Philadelphia loss or tie + Washington loss or tie OR

4) Seattle tie + Carolina loss or tie + Philadelphia loss or tie + Washington loss or tie

AFC

New England (9-4) at Pittsburgh (7-5-1), 4:25 p.m. Sunday on CBS

New England clinches AFC East division title with:

1) New England win + Miami loss or tie OR

2) New England tie + Miami loss

New England clinches a playoff berth with:

1) New England win + Tennessee loss or tie OR

2) New England tie + Baltimore loss + Tennessee loss + Indianapolis loss or tie

Week 15 began in Kansas City with the Chargers storming back to take a last-second 29-28 win over the Chiefs and closes with a clash of NFC South rivals as New Orleans and Drew Brees visit Cam Newton and  the Carolina Panthers on ESPN’s Monday Night Football at 8:15 p.m. Last week, New Orleans clinched the NFC South for the second-consecutive season, marking the first back-to-back division titles in franchise history. Brees leads the NFL with a 75.7 completion percentage and 120.8 passer rating this season and is the only quarterback with at least 30 touchdown passes (31) and fewer than five interceptions (four) in 2018. Since Week 9, Panthers running back Christian McCaffery leads the NFL with 10 touchdowns and is one of two players (Ezekiel Elliott, 161.7) averaging at least 150 scrimmage yards per game (150.7). The NFL also had Saturday action as Houston held off the New York Jets 29-22 in the Meadowlands and the Cleveland Browns held on to defeat Denver 17-16 in the Mile High City.

We went backwards last week, going 5-11 for the week (at least it’s better than going 0-16) and for the season, we’re 116-38. There are two weeks of football left in the regular season and then it’s time for the post-season. We won’t keep you any longer. Here are the Sunday and Monday picks for week 15.

Arizona (3-10) at ATLANTA (4-9), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 709. Week 15 Sunday action gets underway in the Big Peach as apair of struggling teams meet when the Atlanta Falcons host the Arizona Cardinals at Mercerdes-Benz Stadium. While the Cardinals are all but out of the post-season, the Falcons look to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. Both clubs took losses in last week’s action.

The Desert Angry Birds were held to a fourth quarter field goal by Zander Gonzalez by Detroit as the Lions walked their way out of State Farm Stadium with the 17-3 win last Sunday in Glendale. After a scoreless first quarter, the Lions scored their first 3 points of the contest unchallenged and took that 3-0 lead with them to the break. Detroit would make it 10-0 in the third quarter when CB Darius Slay picked off QB Josh Rosen and returned it 67 yards for a TD with 3:03 left in the third. Arizona would end Detroit’s shutout bid with a 22-yard field goal from Gonzalez (who had missed from 54 yards earlier) but Detroit responded when RB Zach Zenner scored from a yard out to close out the scoring in the desert. Detroit outrushed Arizona 122-61 and Rosen threw for 240 yards with an interception and three sacks, while Matthew Stafford threw for 101 yards with a sack but did not throw an interception. The Cardinals were 6 of 16 on third down, 0 for 1 on fourth down and kept the ball for 31:44, while the Lions needed to keep the ball for only 28:16, going 4 for 12 on third down tries.

Atlanta looks to end their five-game losing streak after they fell to Green Bay 34-20 at Lambeau Field, giving Packers interim coach Joe Philbin his first win after the Packers fired Mike McCarthy. After taking an early 7-0 lead thanks to a 16- yard toss from Matt Ryan to WR Julio Jones, the Packers would go on to score their 34 points in the contest unchallenged. Atlanta, who trailed 20-7 at the intermission, managed to rule the fourth quarter, scoring on TD passes from Ryan to Jones and Justin Hardy to make the contest closer. Green Bay outrushed Atlanta 138-107, Ryan threw for 262 yards with three TDs and an interception that was returned for a TD, while Aaron Rodgers threw for 196 yards and a pair of TDs (Rodgers was sacked four times, Ryan sacked twice) and Jones led all recievers with 106 yards on eight catches with the two TDs. Atlanta was 3 of 12 on third down conversions in the land of beer, cheese and Bratwurst (they were 3 for 3 on fourth down) and actually ruled the clock, as they held on to the ball for 30:49, while the Packers kept the ball for 29:11, going 7 for 13 on third down tries.

While the Desert Angry Birds lead the series 15-14, Atlanta has outscored Arizona 662-621 and has won four of the last five meetings. Atlanta’s last win came in 2016 in the Big Peach by a final of 38-19, while Arizona’s last win came in the desert in 2013 with the Cardinals coming away 27-13 winners. Atlanta’s favored by 8 1/2 in the Big Peach and the over/under’s 44. Granted, the Cardinals are bad but tney’re not 8 1/2 points bad. The Desert Angry Birds will make it hard for the Falcons in their nest in the Big Peach but Atlanta takes the win at home.

Tampa Bay (5-8) at Baltimore (7-6), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 710. Jameis Winston will face another Heisman Trophy winner as he and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers make their way to Charm City to face off against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Both teams took losses in their contests last week and both teams wathced their opponents clinch playoff spots.

Tampa Bay let a 14-3 lead against NFC South foe New Orleans get away from them as Drew Brees and the Saints would score 25 second half points unchallenged to come away 28-14 winners at Raymond James Stadium last Sunday. The Bucs took that 2-touchdown lead thanks to a pair of Winston TD passes to Chris Brate in the first 30 minutes of play before New Orleans would chip away at the lead and overtake the Bucs in the final 30 minutes of action. The Saints would get a pair of Will Lutz field goals, a TD pass from Brees to Zach Line and TD runs from Brees and RB Mark Ingram to seal Tampa Bay’s fate. Tampa Bay outrushed New Orleans 105-100 and Winston threw for 213 yards and the two TDs with four sacks and an interception, while Brees threw for 201 yards with the TD and a sack (both Brees and Winston threw an interception). The Saints were 6 for 12 on third down but they were 1 of 1 on fourth down in the Sunshine State and kept the ball for 31:53, while Tampa Bay kept the ball for 28:07, going 6 of 14 on third down tries.

The Ravens watched the Kansas City Chiefs clinch a playoff spot in the AFC last Sunday as they fell in overtime 23-20 at Arrowhead. Kansas City led 17-10 at the break before the Ravens would storm back in the second half and took a 24-17 lead with 4:04 left to play when Lamar Jackson (who took over for Joe Flacco) and WR Darnell Brown connected on a 9-yard TD toss. Kansas City would bring things back to even when Mahomes and RB Darrien Williams connected on a 5-yard TD toss with 58 seconds left. The Chiefs then prevented Baltimore from driving in the final seconds of regulation and the two clubs went into overtime. Kansas City won the toss, got the ball first and made the most of their first possession as K Harrison Butker, who missed earlier from 43 yards, connected on a 35-yarder with 4:42 left in the extra period. Baltimore then got the ball back and threatened to either re-tie the contest or take the win, as they would get as close as Kansas City’s 47-yard line before the two-minute warning came. After the two-minute warning, Jackson scrambled to the Chiefs’ 44-yard line but the Ravens were penalized for holding and were pusshed back. Jackson scrambled again for four yards but the Ravens were again flagged for holding again and Jackson was injured on the play. The Ravens then used a timeout and Robert Griffin III came into to replace Jackson and his first attempt to WR John Brown was incomplete. After the Chiefs burned a timeout and the Ravens had one last chance but the Chiefs would seal the win when Griffin’s pass to Willie Snead IV sailed incomplete.

Baltimore outrushed the Chiefs 198-94 but Mahomes threw for 377 yards and a pair of TDs (including one to TE Travis Kelce) with an interception, while Jackson threw for 147 yards and a pair of TDs of his own, with three sacks and no interceptions (Mahomes sacked three times and picked off once). The Chiefs were 6 of 16 on third down but was successful on fourth down tries at Arrownhead, going 3 for 3 and kept the ball for 37 minutes, while the Ravens kept the ball for 31:27 and were 5 for 12 on third down, 1 for 3 on fourth down.

Baltimore leads the series 3-2, have outscored the Buccaneers 102-74 and have taken wins in the last three contests, including taking a 48-17 win in the Sunshine State in 2014, while Tampa Bay’s last win came in Charm City in 2002, pitching a 25-0 shutout. Baltimore’s favored by 8 in Charm City and the over/under’s 46 1/2. The loser of this one? They’re done for the season. The winner? They get to hang around a little longer. Baltimore may not cover the 8 but they do take the win in Charm City.

Detroit (5-8) at Buffalo (4-9), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 711. Detroit travels to Orchard Park for a Sunday afternoon contest with the Buffalo Bills at New Era Stadium.

Detroit held Arizona to a fourth quarter field goal by Zander Gonzalez by Detroit as the Lions walked their way out of State Farm Stadium with the 17-3 win last Sunday in Glendale. After a scoreless first quarter, the Lions scored their first 3 points of the contest unchallenged and took that 3-0 lead with them to the break. Detroit would make it 10-0 in the third quarter when CB Darius Slay picked off QB Josh Rosen and returned it 67 yards for a TD with 3:03 left in the third. Arizona would end Detroit’s shutout bid with a 22-yard field goal from Gonzalez (who had missed from 54 yards earlier) but Detroit responded when RB Zach Zenner scored from a yard out to close out the scoring in the desert. Detroit outrushed Arizona 122-61 and Rosen threw for 240 yards with an interception and three sacks, while Matthew Stafford threw for 101 yards with a sack but did not throw an interception. The Cardinals were 6 of 16 on third down, 0 for 1 on fourth down and kept the ball for 31:44, while the Lions needed to keep the ball for only 28:16, going 4 for 12 on third down tries.

Buffalo watched GangGreen get their revenge on the Bills from their week 10 loss in the Meadowlands and took a 27-23 win out of Orchard Park last Sudnay. The J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! trailed 14-3 at the end of the first quarter before they went to work on their AFC East rivals, trailing 17-13 at the half, then procceded to chip away at Buffalo and took the lead for keeps with 1:17 when RB Elijah McGuire scored on a 1-yard run. New York then held off a late Bills rally, as CB Trumaine Johnson picked off Josh Allen, giving the Jets the ball back and after a couple of kneeldowns, they would take the win. Buffalo outrushed GangGreen 176-78, with Allen, who threw for 206 yards with a pair of interceptions, leading the way with 101 yards and a rushing TD, while Sam Darnold threw for 170 yards and a TD for the Jets (Darnold was unsacked with an interception, while Allen was sacked three times). The J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! were 6 for 13 on third down (they were 1 for 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 26:13, while the Bills ruled the clock and kept the ball for 33:47 and went 7 for 14 on third down tries in upstate New York.

The Bills lead the series 5-4-1 and the Lions have outscored the Bills 193-184. Buffalo has won the last two meetings, with the Bills coming away 17-14 winners in the Motor City in 2014, while Detroit’s last win came at home a final of 20-17 in 2008. Buffalo’s favored by 2 1/2 on the shores of Lake Erie and the over/under’s 38 1/2. Both numbers make sense and both teams are not going to the post-season party this year, so feel free to watch that “Mythbusters” marathon this Sunday. We can confirm that both teams will not make the playoffs. It’s plausible the Bills will win this one at home and covers the 2 1/2.

Green Bay (5-7-0) at Chicago (9-4), 1 p.m. on FOX. They meet again, this time in the Windy City. A pair of NFC North rivals meet in the Windy City as the first-place Chicago Bears host Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field.

Green Bay gave interim head coach Joe Philbin his first win, taking down Atlanta 34-20 at Lambeau Field last Sunday. After taking over for Mike McCarthy, the Packers erased an early 7-0 deficit after Atlanta QB Matt Ryan and WR Julio Jones connected on a 16-yard toss to open the scoring in the contest. Green Bay would go on to score their 34 points in the contest unchallenged and take a 20-7 at the intermission. Atlanta did manage to rule the fourth quarter, scoring on TD passes from Ryan to Jones and Justin Hardy to make the contest closer. Green Bay outrushed Atlanta 138-107, with Ryan throwing for 262 yards with three TDs and an interception that was returned for a TD, while Rodgers threw for 196 yards and a pair of TDs (Rodgers was sacked four times, Ryan sacked twice) and Jones led all recievers with 106 yards on eight catches with the two TDs. Atlanta was 3 of 12 on third down conversions in the land of beer, cheese and Bratwurst (they were 3 for 3 on fourth down) and actually ruled the clock, as they held on to the ball for 30:49, while the Packers kept the ball for 29:11, going 7 for 13 on third down tries.

Da Bears went into halftime tied at 9-9 with the Los Angeles Rams before Chicago pulled away in the second half with 9 third quarter points unchallenged to take a 15-6 win at Soldier Field last Sunday night. The wheels came off the Rams’ bus in the final 30 minutes of play when DL Eddie Goldman sacked Jared Goff for a safety to open the second half scoring and Da Bears would add a 2-yard TD pass from Mitchell Trubisky to OL Bradley Sowell to all but put the game away. Chicago outrushed the Rams 194-52, with Bears RB Jordan Howard leading the way with 101 yards. Goff would wind up throwing for 180 yards in the loss, while Trubisky threw for 110 yards (Goff was sacked three times and picked off four times, while Trubisky was sacked once with three interceptions). Chicago went 7 of 16 on third down in the Windy City (game time temperature, you ask? A balmy 27 degrees with a 25 degree wind chill) and held on to the ball for 36:49, while the Rams were 3 for 12 on third down, 1 of 3 on fourth down and kept the pigskin for 23:11.

Chicago and Green Bay met at Lambeau in week one and Packers fans held their breath as Rodgers was knocked out of their Sunday night contest against Chicago at Lambeau, only to see the Packers rally to take a 24-23 NFC North win over Da Bears. Trailing 17-0 at the intermission, Packer fans saw Rodgers come out of the contest with what some thought was a knee injury, only to give Green Bay fans hope, as they outscored Chicago 24-6 in the final 30 minutes of action. While Chicago outrushed Green Bay 139-69, Rodgers burned Da Bears for 286 yards with three TDs, with the game-winner going to Randall Cobb to send Green Bay’s fan base home happy. Chicago’s Mitch Trubisky threw for 171 yards and had a rushing TD in the contest but the Green Bay defense made things less than pleasant for him, sacking him four times on the evening. Green Bay was 5 of 13 on third down tries (they were 0 of 1 on fourth down) and held the ball for 26:38, while Chicago kept the pigskin for 33:22, going 7 of 17 on third down, 0 of 2 on fourth down.

Green Bay in the season opener was favored by 7 and the Packers won by 1 and both teams BARELY missed the 47 1/2 over/under by 1/2. Chicago’s favored by 5 1/2 in the Windy City and the over/under’s 45. Chicago would love to win the NFC North in their building, while the Packers want to stop their party, even if it’s for a week. Da Bears get their revenge and cover the 5 1/2 in the Windy City, taking the win at Soldier Field.

Oakland (3-10) at Cincinnati (5-8), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 705. A pair of struggling teams meet along the shore of the Ohio River as the Oakland Raiders square off against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium.

Oakland held off a late Pittsburgh rally at the Alameda County Coliseum, coming away 24-21 winners over the Steelers last Sunday. Oakland led 7-0 after the first quarter came to an end, then the Silver and Black watched Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers take a 14-10 lead with them to the intermission. After the two clubs went scoreless in the third quarter, Oakland proceeded to outscore Pittsburgh 14-7 in the final period of play, then blocked a 40-yard field goal try by Chris Boswell that would have tied things up to end the contest. Oakland outrushed Pittsburgh 55-40 and Derek Carr threw for 322 yards, while Roethlisberger threw for 282 yards (both men threw a pair of TD passes, Roethlisberger connected with WR Ju Ju Smith-Schuster on both of his tosses; neither man threw an interception, Roethlisberger was sacked once and Carr was sacked four times). The Raiders were 4 for 12 on third down but were succesful on fourth down, going 2 for 2 and kept the ball for 32:36, while Pittsburgh kept the ball for 27:24, going 6 for 11 on third down, 0 for 1 on fourth down.

Los Angeles survived a scare from the Cincinnati Bengals last Sunday at Stub Hub Centre, as the Bengals fell to the Chargers 26-21 on the West Coast. The Chargers led 17-12 at the intermission, then held off a late Cincinnati rally in the second half to take the win. Cincinnnati did outrush Los Angeles 144-85, with Bengals running back Joe Mixon leading all rushers with 111 yards and a TD but Rivers threw for 220 yards with no interceptions, as he outpaced Bengals backup QB Jeff Driskel (who took over for Andy Dalton), who threw for 170 yards and no interceptions (both men threw a TD pass, Driskel was sacked three times, Rivers was sacked twice). Both teams were 5 of 13 on third down conversions in the late afternoon contest on the West Coast and the Chargers were 1 of 1 on fourth down, keeping the ball for 27:22, while Cincinnati ruled the clock, holding on to the ball for 32:38 but went 0 for 1 on fourth down tries.

The Silver and Black lead the series 18-10 and have outscored the Bengals 643-547 (including games that were played at Riverfront Stadium and in Los Angeles). The Bengals won their last meeting with Oakland, as the Bengals were 33-13 winners along the shores of the Ohio River in 2015, while Oakland’s last win in the series came in Oakland by a final of 20-17 in 2009. Cincinnati’s favored by 3 along the shores of the Ohio River and the over/under’s 45 1/2. Both numbers are reasonable. This contest may wind up being somewhat entertaining and while it’s nowhere near being “DRILL WORTHY!” it’s football. Bengals cover the 3 and takes the win at home.

Dallas (8-5) at Indianapolis (7-6), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 713. A pair of contending teams meet in the Hoosier State as Dak Prescott and Dallas makes their way to Indianapolis for a Sunday afternoon meeting with Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts.

Dallas led Philadelphia 6-0 at the intermission thanks to a pair of Brett Maher field goals (including a 62-yarder as time expired), then saw the defending Super Bowl champs storm back in the second half to tie things up at 23-23 and needed overtime to come away 29-23 winners at AT&T Stadium last Sunday afternoon. Dallas would lead 9-0 going into the final 30 minutes of play before the Eagles would storm back in the fourth quarter, tying things up with 99 seconds left in regulation when Darrell Sporles and Carson Wentz connected on a 6-yard toss. Dallas would get the ball to start the overtime and made the most of it, using a 13-play, 75-yard drive that took 8:05 of the overtime, taking the win when Prescott and WR Amari Cooper connected on a 15-yard TD toss to end the contest. Dallas outrushed the defending Super Bowl champs 142-34 with Ezekiel Elliott leading the way with 113 yards for Dallas. Prescott threw for 455 yards with a pair of interceptions, while Wentz threw for 228 yards (both QBs threw three TDs in the overtime contest). Third down tries… the Cowboys were 10 of 19, while the Eagles were 1 of 9 and both clubs went 1 of 1 on fourth down tries. Dallas ruled the clock in the contest, keeping the ball for 45:33 (including the entire overtime), while the Eagles kept the ball for 22:32.

The Colts broke Houston’s 9-game win streak as Luck and the Colts came away from the Lone Start State 24-21 winners Sunday afternoon at NRG Stadium. The Texans took a 7-0 lead after the first quarter and saw that lead vanish as the Colts scored 17 second quarter points unchallenged to take a 17-7 lead with them to the intermission. Houston would eventually make it a 3-point game with 2:37 left in regulation when WR DeAnrde Hopkins and Texans QB DeShaun Watson connected on a 7-yard TD toss to bring them closer. The Colts then proceeded to run out the clock and take the win over their AFC South rivals. While Houston outrushed Indianapolis 89-50, Luck threw for 399 yards with a pair of TDs, while Watson threw for 267 yards with a TD and no interceptions (Watson was sacked five times, Luck was sacked twice and threw an interception). The Texans were 5 of 15 on third down conversions (they were perfect on fourth down, going 2 of 2) and they would keep the ball for 31:57, while the Colts would keep the pigskin for 28:03, going 4 of 12 on third down tries.

Including contests played at the Cotton Bowl and in Baltimore, Dallas leads the series 10-5 and the Cowboys have outscored the Colts 378-259. The Cowboys won the their last meeting, taking a 42-7 win in Arlington in 2014, while the Colts’ last win in the series came in 2002 in the Hoosier State by a final of 20-3. Indy’s favored by 3 in the Hoosier State and the over/under’s 47. Both teams want playoff spots and should Dallas win, they win the NFC East; if the Colts win, they put themselves a little closer to Houston. Colts win in the Hoosier State and covers the 3.

Washington (6-7) at Jacksonville (4-9), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 708. Washington makes the 711-mile drive down I-95 to face off against the struggling Jacksonville Jaguars in north Florida. Jacksonvile looks to knock the Redskins out of the playoff picture, while Washington looks to bounce back from their four-game losing streak.

The Redskins watched Eli Manning and the New York Giants score 40 points unchallenged (Washington trailed 34-0 at the half) through three quarters of play at FedEx Field before scoring twice in the fourth to fall to the Giants 40-16 in Landover last Sunday. The Giants easily outrushhed Washington 227-84 with New York RB Sequan Barkley leading the way with 170 yards and a TD, while Manning threw for 197 yards and three TDs. Washington was paced by backup QB Josh Johnson (who took over for Mark Sanchez), who threw for 195 yards and a TD with an interception (Manning was sacked twice but did not throw an interception). The Giants went 4 of 13 on third down tries and held on to the ball for 30:09, while Washington kept the ball for 29:51, going 2 for 11 on third down, 0 for 1 on fourth down.

Jacksonville found themselves being held in check by Tennessee in Nashville two Thursdays ago, as the Titans completed the sweep of their series, falling 30-9 in Nashville. The Jaguars trailed 16-2 at the break and could never really get themselves on track at Nissan Stadium, as the Titans would outscore them 14-7 in the second half. Jacksonville’s points in the contest came when rookie LB Leon Jacobs sacked Titans rookie KR Cameron Batson in the end zone for a safety in the first quarter and WR Dede Westbrook catching a 7-yard TD pass from Case Kessler late in the third. Jacksonville was easily outrushed by Tennessee 264-60, with Titans RB Derrick Henry leading the way with 238 yards and four TDs. Keesler threw for 240 yards and was sacked four times, while Marcus Mariota threw for 162 yards with a sack and an interception for the Titans. Jacksonville was 2 of 15 on third down, 2 of 5 on fourth down and actually ruled the clock, as they kept the ball for 30:40, while the Titans were 29:20 in time of possesion, going 7 for 11 on third down, 0 of 1 on fourth down.

Washington leads the series 5-1, have outscored Jacksonville 163-111 and has won the last three meetings, including coming away with the 41-10 win in Landover in 2014, while Jacksonville’s lone win over the Redskins came in 2002 in the Sunshine State by a final of 26-7. The odds makers like the Jaguars as 7 point favorites in north Florida and the over/under’s 36. Both teams are on back up QBs and both would love nothing more than to have some sanity restored. “Hail To The Redskins?” Not this week. Washington fan will be singing “Hell, it’s the Redskins!” this week. Washington will make this one close but Jacksonville prevails in north Florida, taking the win in the Sunshine State.

Miami (7-6) at Minnesota (6-6-1), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 706. A pair of contenders meet in the Land of 10,000 Lakes as Miami travels to the Twin Cities to face off against the Minnesota Vikings at US Bank Stadium.

Miami snatched victory from the jaws of defeat last Sunday in the Sunshine State, as they took a 34-33 win from Tom Brady and the New England Patriots at Hard Rock Stadium. After leading their AFC East rivals 7-6 at the end of the first quarter, Brady and the Patriots would lead 27-21 at the break, thanks to Brady throwing TD passes to Julian Edelman and TE Rob Gronkowski for the six-point lead. Miami reclaimed the lead in the third quarter but lost it in the fourth when K Stephen Gostkowski added a pair of field goals in the fourth, the second one coming with 16 seconds left in regulation to give New England the 33-28. Miami would make the most of the five-point deficit they faced and used all of the 16 second that were left when RB Kenyan Drake caught a 69-yard pass from QB Ryan Tannehill as part of a couple of laterals and took the ball into the end zone as time expired. Miami outrushed New England 189-87 with Dolphins RB Frank Gore leading the way with 92 yards; Tannehill threw for 265 yards, while Brady threw for 358 yards, 107 of those yards going to Gronkowski (both men threw three TDs, neither threw an interception, Tannehill was sacked four times and Brady twice) in the contest. Miami went 1 of 7 on third down conversions and held the ball for 24:46 (including the final 16 seconds), while New England kept the ball for 35:14 and went 9 for 16 on third down tries.

Seattle held Minnesota to a late TD in the fourth quarter in the Pacific Northwest as the Seahawks were 21-7 winners at Century Link Field last Monday night. Sebastian Janikowski gave Seattle a 3-0 lead in the early part of the second quarter after the two teams were scoreless at the end of the first and would take that lead with them to the intermission. Minnesota and Seattle shut each other out in the thrid quarter but the Seahawks would score 18 fourth quarter points unchallenged to seal the win, using a second Janikowski field goal, a 2-yard run by Chris Carson and a 29-yard fumble return by Justin Coleman before Minnesota would end Seattle’s bid for a shutout with 70 seconds left when RB Delvin Cook caught a 6-yard TD pass from Kirk Cousins. Minnesota was outrushed by Seattle 214-77 in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks and Russell Wilson threw for only 72 yards in the contest with a pair of sacks and an interception that stopped a Seahawks’ drive, while Cousins threw for 208 yards with a pair of sacks and no interceptions. Seattle was 3 for 11 on third down (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and held on to the ball for 31:49, while the Vikings held on to the ball for 28:11, while the Purple Gang was 2 of 10 on third down, 0 for 2 on fourth down.

Miami holds a 7-4 lead in the series (including games played at the Orange Bowl, Metropolitan Stadium and the Metrodome), the Dolphins have outscored the Vikings 230-212 and the ‘Fins have won the last three contests, including taking a 37-35 win in the Sunshine State in 2014, while Minnesota’s last win came in the Twin Cities in 2002 by a final of 20-17. Minnesota’s favored by 7 in the Land of 10,000 Lakes and the over/under’s 43 1/2. Both teams are looking for a playoff spot and the winner gets a little bit closer to their goal. Miami pulls the upstate in the Twin Cities and covers the 7.

Tennessee (7-6) at New York Giants (5-8), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 707. A pair of future Hall of Fame QBs meet in the Meadowlands as Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee Titans square off against Eli Manning and the New York Giants at Met Life Stadium. Both clubs took care of business last week, taking big wins in last week’s action.

Tennessee and Mariota held Jacksonville in check in Nashville two Thursdays ago, as the Titans completed the sweep of their series, falling 30-9 in Nashville. Tennessee led 16-2 at the break and never really allowed Jacksonville to get themselves on track at Nissan Stadium, as the Titans would outscore them 14-7 in the second half. Jacksonville’s points in the contest came when rookie LB Leon Jacobs sacked Titans rookie KR Cameron Batson in the end zone for a safety in the first quarter and WR Dede Westbrook catching a 7-yard TD pass from Case Kessler late in the third. Jacksonville was easily outrushed by Tennessee 264-60, with Titans RB Derrick Henry leading the way with 238 yards and four TDs. Keesler threw for 240 yards and was sacked four times, while Marcus Mariota threw for 162 yards with a sack and an interception for the Titans. Jacksonville was 2 of 15 on third down, 2 of 5 on fourth down and actually ruled the clock, as they kept the ball for 30:40, while the Titans were 29:20 in time of possesion, going 7 for 11 on third down, 0 of 1 on fourth down.

Manning and the Giants scored 40 points unchallenged (they led 34-0 at the half) through three quarters of play at FedEx Field before scoring twice in the fourth to take down Washington 40-16 in Landover last Sunday. The Giants easily outrushhed Washington 227-84 with New York RB Sequan Barkley leading the way with 170 yards and a TD, while Manning threw for 197 yards and three TDs. Washington was paced by backup QB Josh Johnson (who took over for Mark Sanchez), who threw for 195 yards and a TD with an interception (Manning was sacked twice but did not throw an interception). The Giants went 4 of 13 on third down tries and held on to the ball for 30:09, while Washington kept the ball for 29:51, going 2 for 11 on third down, 0 for 1 on fourth down.

Including contests that took place when the Titans were known as the Houston Oilers, the Giants lead the series 6-5 and Big Blue has outscored the Titans 239-202. The Giants are favored by 2 1/2 in upstate New Jersey and the over/under’s 43 1/2. Tennesse’s looking to have a part in the playoff party, while the Giants look to finish the season at the .500 mark. Big Blue puts themsevles one step closer to that goal, taking the win and covering the 2 1/2.

Seattle (8-5) at San Francisco (3-10), 4:05 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 714. It’s an NFC West rematch in Santa Clara as Seattle makes the 839-mile trip down I-5 to face off against the San Francisco 49ers. Both teams took home wins in last week’s action.

Seattle held Minnesota to a late TD in the fourth quarter as the Seahawks were 21-7 winners at Century Link Field last Monday night. Sebastian Janikowski gave Seattle a 3-0 lead in the early part of the second quarter after the two teams were scoreless at the end of the first and would take that lead with them to the intermission. Minnesota and Seattle shut each other out in the thrid quarter but the Seahawks would score 18 fourth quarter points unchallenged to seal the win, using a second Janikowski field goal, a 2-yard run by Chris Carson and a 29-yard fumble return by Justin Coleman before Minnesota would end Seattle’s bid for a shutout with 70 seconds left when RB Delvin Cook caught a 6-yard TD pass from Kirk Cousins. Minnesota was outrushed by Seattle 214-77 in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks and Russell Wilson threw for only 72 yards in the contest with a pair of sacks and an interception that stopped a Seahawks’ drive, while Cousins threw for 208 yards with a pair of sacks and no interceptions. Seattle was 3 for 11 on third down (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and held on to the ball for 31:49, while the Vikings held on to the ball for 28:11, while the Purple Gang was 2 of 10 on third down, 0 for 2 on fourth down.

The 49ers held off a late Denver rally at Levis Stadium, taking a 20-14 win Sunday afternoon at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. San Francisco got a pair of Robbie Gould field goals and a pair of TD passes from Nick Mullens in the first half to allow the 49ers to score their 20 points in the first half unchallenged before the Broncos would get back on track, scoring their 14 points unthreatened. Broncos rookie WR DaeSean Hamilton’s 1-yard TD pass from Case Keenum with 3:53 left would pull the Broncos to within seven but the 49ers would not allow them to come any closer, breaking the Broncos’ three-game win streak in the process. Denver did outrush San Francsico 103-94 but Mullens burned Denver for 332 yards and a pair of TDs, including one to TE George Kittle (Kittle had seven catches for 210 yards), while Keenum threw for 186 yards in the loss (Keenum was sacked twice, while Mullens was sacked three times with an interception). While the Broncos were 2 of 15 on third down conversions in Santa Clara last Sunday, they were 5 for 7 on fourth down tries and held on to the ball for 29:19. As for San Francisco? They ruled the clock and kept the ball for 30:41 and were 4 of 13 on third down, 0 of 1 on fourth down.

They met two weeks ago in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks and San Francisco saw their slim playoff hopes die in Seattle as the Seahawks took down the 49ers 43-16 at Century Link Field in the Pacific Northwest. Seattle led 20-6 at the intermission, then proceeded to outscore the 49ers 23-13 in the last 30 minutes of action in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks and never looked back. Seattle outrushed San Francisco 168-66 and Nate Mullins threw for 414 yards and a pair of TDs to WR Dante Pettis but was sacked three times and picked off twice, while Russell Wilson threw for 185 yards with four TDs and no interception (Wilson was sacked three times). San Francisco went 7 of 16 on third down (they were 1 for 2 on fourth down) and the 49ers actually ruled the clock as they held on to the ball for 32:30, while the Seahawks were 4 for 9 on third down, keeping the ball for 27:30.

In the week 13 meeting in the Pacific Northwest, Seattle was favored by 9 1/2 and the Seahawks covered, winning by 17. Both teams covered the 46 over/under by tallying 59 points. In the rematch, Seattle’s the darling of the boys and girls in Vegas as a 6 1/2 point favorite with a 44 1/2 over/under. San Francisco wants to be the Grinch to Seattle and steal their thunder, while the Seahawks work for a Wild Card spot. The 49ers’ heart is three sizes too small. Seattle covers the 6 1/2 and wins in wine country.

New England (9-4) at Pittsburgh (7-5-1), 4:25 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 715. Tom vs. Ben. Brady vs. Roethlisberger. They meet again. A pair of future Hall of Fame QBs meet in the Steel City in a late-afternoon AFC contest at Heinz Field. Both teams were road losers in last week’s action.

Miami snatched victory from the jaws of defeat last Sunday in the Sunshine State, as they took a 34-33 win from Tom Brady and the New England Patriots at Hard Rock Stadium. After leading their AFC East rivals 7-6 at the end of the first quarter, Brady and the Patriots would lead 27-21 at the break, thanks to Brady throwing TD passes to Julian Edelman and TE Rob Gronkowski for the six-point lead. Miami reclaimed the lead in the third quarter but lost it in the fourth when K Stephen Gostkowski added a pair of field goals in the fourth, the second one coming with 16 seconds left in regulation to give New England the 33-28. Miami would make the most of the five-point deficit they faced and used all of the 16 second that were left when RB Kenyan Drake caught a 69-yard pass from QB Ryan Tannehill as part of a couple of laterals and took the ball into the end zone as time expired. Miami outrushed New England 189-87 with Dolphins RB Frank Gore leading the way with 92 yards; Tannehill threw for 265 yards, while Brady threw for 358 yards, 107 of those yards going to Gronkowski (both men threw three TDs, neither threw an interception, Tannehill was sacked four times and Brady twice) in the contest. Miami went 1 of 7 on third down conversions and held the ball for 24:46 (including the final 16 seconds), while New England kept the ball for 35:14 and went 9 for 16 on third down tries.

Oakland held off a late Pittsburgh rally at the Alameda County Coliseum, as the Steelers fell to the Silver and Black 24-21 last Sunday. Oakland led 7-0 after the first quarter came to an end, then the Silver and Black watched Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers take a 14-10 lead with them to the intermission. After the two clubs went scoreless in the third quarter, Oakland proceeded to outscore Pittsburgh 14-7 in the final period of play, then blocked a 40-yard field goal try by Chris Boswell that would have tied things up to end the contest. Oakland outrushed Pittsburgh 55-40 and Derek Carr threw for 322 yards, while Roethlisberger threw for 282 yards (both men threw a pair of TD passes, Roethlisberger connected with WR Ju Ju Smith-Schuster on both of his tosses; neither man threw an interception, Roethlisberger was sacked once and Carr was sacked four times). The Raiders were 4 for 12 on third down but were succesful on fourth down, going 2 for 2 and kept the ball for 32:36, while Pittsburgh kept the ball for 27:24, going 6 for 11 on third down, 0 for 1 on fourth down.

Pittsburgh leads the series 14-12 and the Steelers have outscored New England 604-574. Pittsburgh’s last win over the Pats came in 2011 in the Steel City by a final of 25-17, while New England’s last win came last year at Heinz Field by a final of 27-24.

They met in the Steel City in week 15 and in that late afternoon meeting, Brady and the Pats erased a 17-10 deficit against Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers and left Heinz Field with a 27-24 win to clinch the AFC East title. The Steelers led 24-19 with 56 seconds left in regulation when New England’s Deion Lewis scored on an 8-yard run and took the lead when Brady and TE Rob Gronkowski, coming off his one-game suspension, hooked up on the two-point try to take the 3-point lead. Steelers fans had their hopes dashed twice in the contest. Pittsburgh got the ball back and marched downfield, getting as close as New England’s 10-yard line when Ben Roethlisberger and TE Jesse James connected on what they thought would be the game-winning score. The play was reviewed and the call was changed from catch to no catch. After that, WR Darrius Heyward-Bey caught a short pass to New England’s 7-yard line and the Steelers scrambled to the line without any times and Roethlisberger threw a pass into the endzone that was deflected and picked off by Duron Harmon. New England ran out the clock and took the win.

Pittsburgh outrushed New England 143-77, with LeVeon Bell leading all rushers with 117 yards, while Roethlisbeger threw for 281 yards and a TD. Pittsburgh also lost the services of All-Pro WR Antonio Brown, who had 24 yards on two catches before leaving the contest with a torn calf muscle (Ju-Ju Smith-Schuster had 114 yards on six catches for the Steelers), while Brady threw for 298 yards and a TD (both were sacked twice and both threw an interception). Pittsburgh on third down went 10 of 16 and kept the ball for 35:07, while the Pats were 24:53 in time of possession, going 3 of 9 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down at Heinz Field.

It’s not just Brady vs. Roethilsberger. There’s a revenge plot in this one, which makes it “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 58 last June and dates a 43-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?”)

In the week 15 contest that had drama and controversy, the Pats were favored by 2 1/2 and New England covered, winning by 3. The two clubs missed the 53 1/2 over/under, as both combined for 51 points. New England’s favored by 2 1/2 in western Pennsylvania but this time, the over/under’s 52. Both teams have all but assured themselves of a spot in the post-season party. New England wants to prove that last year’s meeting was not a fluke, while the Steelers want revenge. Revenge wins out this time. Pittsburgh pulls off the upset at Heinz Field and takes the win, covering the 2.

Philadelphia (6-7) at Los Angeles Rams (11-2), 8:20 p.m. on NBC. The defending Super Bowl champs limp their way to the West Coast for a Sunday night contest with the Los Angeles Rams, winners of the NFC West in a rematch from last season. Both teams come into the Sunday night affair taking losses on the road from last Sunday’s action.

Philadelphia, who will have Nick Foles under center Sunday night, trailed Dallas 6-0 at the intermission thanks to a pair of Brett Maher field goals (including a 62-yarder as time expired), then rallied in the second half to tie things up at 23-23, only to come up short, losing to their NFC East rivals 29-23 in overtime AT&T Stadium last Sunday afternoon. Dallas would lead 9-0 going into the final 30 minutes of play before the Eagles would storm back in the fourth quarter, tying things up with 99 seconds left in regulation when Darrell Sporles and Carson Wentz connected on a 6-yard toss. Dallas would get the ball to start the overtime and made the most of it, using a 13-play, 75-yard drive that took 8:05 of the overtime, taking the win when Prescott and WR Amari Cooper connected on a 15-yard TD toss to end the contest. Dallas outrushed the defending Super Bowl champs 142-34 with Ezekiel Elliott leading the way with 113 yards for Dallas. Prescott threw for 455 yards with a pair of interceptions, while Wentz threw for 228 yards (both QBs threw three TDs in the overtime contest). Third down tries… the Cowboys were 10 of 19, while the Eagles were 1 of 9 and both clubs went 1 of 1 on fourth down tries. Dallas ruled the clock in the contest, keeping the ball for 45:33 (including the entire overtime), while the Eagles kept the ball for 22:32.

In somewhat chilly Chicago, the Rams and Da Bears went into halftime tied a 9-9 before Chicago pulled away in the second half with 9 third quarter points unchallenged to lose 15-6 at Soldier Field last Sunday night. The wheels came off the Rams’ bus in the final 30 minutes of play when DL Eddie Goldman sacked Jared Goff for a safety to open the second half scoring and Da Bears would add a 2-yard TD pass from Mitchell Trubisky to OL Bradley Sowell to all but put the game away. Chicago outrushed the Rams 194-52, with Bears RB Jordan Howard leading the way with 101 yards. Goff would wind up throwing for 180 yards in the loss, while Trubisky threw for 110 yards (Goff was sacked three times and picked off four times, while Trubisky was sacked once with three interceptions). Chicago went 7 of 16 on third down in the Windy City (game time temperature, you ask? A balmy 27 degrees with a 25 degree wind chill) and held on to the ball for 36:49, while the Rams were 3 for 12 on third down, 1 of 3 on fourth down and kept the pigskin for 23:11.

Philadelphia leads the series 20-17-1 (which includes games played in Cleveland, Colorado Springs, JFK Stadium, Veterans Stadium and St. Louis), while the Rams have outscored Philadelphia 769-768. The defending Super Bowl champs have won the last five contests in the series, including taking a 43-35 win last year on the West Coast (the Rams’ last win over the Eagles came in St. Louis in 2004 by a final of 20-7.

They met in week 14 at the Coliseum and the Eagles led 24-14 at the intermisison before the Rams would storm their way back to take a 28-24 lead with 10:07 left in the third when DB Blake Countess retuned a blocked punt 16 yards for a TD to give the home team the four-point lead. That lead would not last very long as the Eagles would reclaim it when Alshon Jeffery and Wentz connected on a 2-yard TD toss with 2:20 left in the third. Back came the Rams, who would take the lead back early in the final quarter when RB Todd Gurley scored from a yard away to lead 35-31. Philadelphia stormed back again, using a pair of Josh Elliot field goals and a Brandon Graham TD run at the end of the contest to seasl Los Angeles’ fate. Philadelphia outrushed the Rams 139-109 and Wentz, who left the contest with a knee injury earlier in the game, threw for 291 yards and four TDs (Wentz was sacked once and picked off once) and his replacement Nick Foles threw for 42 yards, while Goff threw for 199 yards with a pair of TDs with a pair of sacks and no interceptions. Philadelphia was 8 for 20 on third down tries on the West Coast (they were 2 of 2 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 39:12, while the Rams kept the ball for 20:48, going 2 for 7 on third down tries.

In the week 14 contest in Los Angeles, the Rams were favored by 2 and the Eagles covered, winning by 8. The two teams covered the 50 1/2 over/under, as they would tally 78 points in the contest.

The Eagles are now 23-20 on Sunday night, losing to Dallas earlier in the season, while the Rams are 10-12, with their last prime time appearance on Sunday coming in 2010 when they were in St. Louis (that contest resulted in a loss). The Rams are favored by 9 1/2 and the over/under’s 54. The Eagles are in survival mode, while the Rams would love nothing more than to be the number one seed when the NFC playoffs get underway. Philadelphia will make this one closer than 9 1/2 but the Rams bounce back and prevails on the West Coast.

New Orleans (11-2) at Carolina (6-7), 8:15 p.m. Monday on ESPN. Week 15 closes out in the Tar Heel State as a pair of NFC South foes meet in Charlotte, with New Orleans and Carolina meeting at Bank of America Stadium for a Monday night contest.

New Orleans erased a 14-3 deficit against NFC South foe Tampa Bay and Jameis Winston as Drew Brees and the Saints would score 25 second half points unchallenged to come away 28-14 winners at Raymond James Stadium last Sunday. The Bucs took that 2-touchdown lead thanks to a pair of Winston TD passes to Chris Brate in the first 30 minutes of play before New Orleans would chip away at the lead and overtake the Bucs in the final 30 minutes of action. The Saints, who clinched the NFC South title Sunday afternoon in the Sunshine State, would get a pair of Will Lutz field goals, a TD pass from Brees to Zach Line and TD runs from Brees and RB Mark Ingram to seal Tampa Bay’s fate. Tampa Bay outrushed New Orleans 105-100 and Winston threw for 213 yards and the two TDs with four sacks and an interception, while Brees threw for 201 yards with the TD and a sack (both Brees and Winston threw an interception). The Saints were 6 for 12 on third down but they were 1 of 1 on fourth down in the Sunshine State and kept the ball for 31:53, while Tampa Bay kept the ball for 28:07, going 6 of 14 on third down tries.

For the second week in a row, Newton faced another former Heisman Trophy winner in Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield and Cleveland edged out Carolina 26-20 last Sunday along the shores of Lake Erie at FirstEnergy Stadium. Tied 17-17 at the intermission, the Panthers would take a 3-point lead on a 34-yard field goal by Chris Cantazaro with 7:11 left in the third quarter. It would be the last time that the Panthers would see the lead as Browns rookie RB Nick Chubb would give the home team the lead for keeps, scoring from 4 yards out with 13:05 left, then K Greg Joseph all but sealed Carolina’s fate with a 41-yard field goal to close out the scoring and ended a Carolina threat that would have given the Panthers the lead late in the contest. Cleveland outrushed Carolina 116-96, with Chubb leading all rushers with 66 yards while Collin McCaffery leading Carolina with 63 yards and a pair of TDs for the Panthers. Newton threw for 265 yards with an interception and a sack for Carolina, while Mayfield threw for 238 yards and TD pass to WR Jarvis Landry for Cleveland (Mayfield was sacked once but did not throw an interception). Cleveland was 4 for 9 on third down tries and kept the ball for 26:10, while Carolina ruled the clock and kept the pigskin for 33:50, going 5 of 14 on third down, 2 of 3 on fourth down tries.

Carolina leads the series 24-22 and the Panthers have outscored New Orleans 1,014-1,013. They met three times and New Orleans won all three meetings,  winning 34-13 at Carolina in Week 3 (September 24) and 31-21 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in Week 13 (December 3) and taking a 31-26 win in the NFC Wild Card game in the Big Easy (Carolina’s last win over the Saints came in 2016, when they would take a 23-20 win in Charlotte).

In the contest in Charlotte in week three, the Saints took a 17-6 lead with them to the intermission at Bank of America Stadium and never looked back, as Brees threw three TDs in the game in the Tar Heel State. New Orleans outrushed Carolina 149-132, Brees threw for 220 yards with no interceptions, while Newton struggled, throwing for 167 yards with four sacks and three interceptions. Both teams were 50 percent on third down tries (New Orleans was 6 of 12, Carolina was 7 of 14) and New Orleans ruled the clock and kept the ball for 31:09 to Carolina’s 28:51.

Meeting number two… New Orleans pulled the sweep in front of the home folkes in the Big Easy in week 13, taking the 10-point NFC South win over their rivals. This time, it was the Kamara/Ingram show as the two scored three rushing TDs (Kamara with two) and Brees threw for 269 yards, while Newton had a little better outing, throwing for 183 yards and a pair of TDs (each QB was sacked twice and did not throw an interception), connecting with Christian McCafferty and Darren Funchess on both tosses. The Saints again outrushed Carolina, this time tallying 148 yards (Ingram led all rushers with 85 yards), while Carolina tallied 112, with Newton accounting for 51 of those yards. As well as both teams did on third down in the first meetings, such was not the case in the second contest, as Carolina was 3 of 10 on third down tries (the Panthers were 0 of 2 on fourth down), while the Saints were 6 of 15 but found success on fourth down, going 1 of 1. Time was once again the BFF of the Saints, as they kept the ball for 33:21, while the Panthers held the pigskin for 26:39.

Round three… the NFC Wild Card game in the Big Easy and the Saints survived a last-second scare from Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers at home last Sunday in an NFC South rematch, taking a 31-26 win in the Big Easy. New Orleans took a 21-9 lead with them to the break before the Panthers roared back in the final 30 minutes of action, making it a 6-point contest with 4:09 left in regulation when Newton and TE Collin MCCaffery connected on a 58-yard TD pass. The Saints then got the ball back and got as far as Carolina’s 47 yard line before Drew Brees (349 yards, TD) was picked off by S Matt Adams, who brought the ball back to their 31 yard line. Carolina then proceeded to move the ball and got as close as the Saints’ 21 yard line, when Newton (349 yards, four sacks) was called for intentional ground, much to the anger and chagrin of Panther fans. Newton then threw an interception that was intended for WR Darren Funches and then ended Carolina’s hopes of avenging the two earlier losses when Newton was sacked by Vonn Bell. New Orleans ran out the clock and took the win at home.

In the week three contest in the Tar Heel State, the Panthers were favored by 6 and the Saints covered the spread, winning by 21. The two clubs combined for 47 points, barely missing the 48 over/under. As for the second meeting, which took place in week 13, the oddsmakers in Vegas liked the Saints as 4 1/2-point favorites and they did kept the boys and girls in Vegas happy, winning by 10 in the Big Easy and both teams covered the 48 over/under with 52 points. The Saints were favored again, this time by 6 1/2 (New Orleans won by 5) and the over/under was 48 1/2 (both teams took care of that, scoring 57 points).

On Monday nights, the Panthers have done quite well, going 10-6 (they played one MNF game last season and took the win in that contest), while the Saints are 18-22 (they also played on a Monday night last year and took a loss). New Orleans is favored by 6 1/2 in the Tar Hee State and the over/under’s 52. Both numbers are reasonable and make a lot of sense. The Saints have already clinched the NFC South, while the Panthers are looking to claw their way into the post-season party. This would be a good time to tape “Bull” this week. Carolina’s finer in Charlotte on Monday night, taking the win, even though they may not cover the 6 1/2.

With four weeks left in regular season play, only one playoff spot out of 12 has been filled and that was courtesy of the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams clinched the NFC West for the second straight season and will make another trip to the post-season party. One spot down. 11 to go.

There are only four weeks remaining in the regular season to decide who advances to the playoffs for a chance at a trip to Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta.

As the league enters the final quarter of the regular season, there are 19 teams either in or within one game of a playoff spot, including 10 teams that did not advance to the postseason in 2017. Since the 12-team playoff format began in 1990, at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before.

Entering Week 14, one team – the NFC West champion Los Angeles Rams (11-1) – has clinched a playoff berth as the battle for the remaining spots forges ahead. Three additional teams – Houston (9-3), New England (9-3) and New Orleans (10-2) – can clinch a division title this week.

Two teams that finished in or tied for last place in their division in 2017 – Chicago (NFC North) and Houston (AFC South) – are currently in first place in their respective divisions this season. In 14 of the past 15 seasons, at least one team finished in first place in its division the season after finishing in last or tied for last place. Of the 46 teams in league history to go from “worst-to-first,” 23 of them have done so in the past 15 years (2003-17), including an NFL-record three such teams in 2005 and 2006.

SEVEN FROM SUNDAY: The Los Angeles Rams improved to 11-1 and clinched the NFC West division with a 30-16 victory over Detroit at Ford Field. The Rams have won consecutive division titles for the first time since the 1978-79 seasons.

Rams running back Todd Gurley rushed for 132 yards and two touchdowns in the Rams’ victory. Gurley has 1,649 scrimmage yards and 19 touchdowns in his team’s first 12 games this season and is the eighth different player in league history to record at least 1,600 scrimmage yards and 18 touchdowns in his team’s first 12 games of a season. Gurley puts himself in some pretty good company, as six of the previous seven players to accomplish the feat are enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Those names, you ask? Jim Brown (1958 and 1965), Terrell Davis (1998), Eric Dickerson (1983), O.J. Simpson (1975), Emmitt Smith (1995) and La Dainian Tomlinson (2006)

Rams wide receiver Brandin Cooks had four catches for 62 yards in the win and has 1,026 receiving yards this season, his fourth consecutive season with at least 1,000 receiving yards. Cooks, who had 1,173 receiving yards with the Saints in 2016 and 1,082 yards with the Patriots in 2017, is the first player in NFL history to record 1,000+ receiving yards with three different teams in three consecutive seasons. Cooks is the sixth player in league annals to record at least 1,000 receiving yards in a single season for three or more teams at any point in his career.

•New England quarterback Tom Brady completed 24 of 32 passes (75 percent) for 311 yards with one touchdown and one interception for a 102.5 passer rating in the Patriots’ 24-10 victory over Minnesota. With his third-quarter touchdown pass, Brady tied Peyton Manning (579 touchdown passes) for the most touchdown passes in NFL history, including the postseason. Brady also tied Pro Football Hall of Famer Brett Farve (508) for the third-most regular-season touchdown passes in league annals.

•Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahones passed for 295 yards with four touchdowns and zero interceptions for a 120 passer rating and tight end Travos Kelce recorded 12 catches for 168 yards and two touchdowns in the Chiefs’ 40-33 win at Oakland.

Mahomes leads the NFL with 41 touchdown passes this season and joined Peyton Manning (44 touchdown passes in 2004 and 41 in 2013) and Tom Brady (41 in 2007) as the only quarterbacks in league history with at least 40 touchdown passes in their team’s first 12 games of a season. Manning and Brady each were named Associated Press Most Valuable Players in those campaigns.
Mahomes has seven games with at least four touchdown passes this season, the second-most in a single season in league annals, trailing only Manning (nine games in 2013).

Kelce, who has 1,082 receiving yards this season and has 1,000+ receiving yards in each of the past two seasons, joined Carolina’s Greg Olsen (three consecutive seasons from 2014-16) as the only tight ends in NFL history with at least 1,000 receiving yards in three consecutive seasons.

•New York Giants rookie running back Saquon Barkley rushed for 125 yards and wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. threw a 49-yard touchdown pass and had a touchdown catch in the team’s 30-27 overtime victory over Chicago in the Meadowlands.

Beckham, who also threw a 57-yard touchdown pass and had a 33-yard touchdown catch against Carolina in Week 5, is the first player since 1924 to record multiple games with a touchdown pass and a receiving touchdown in a single season. Eddie Kaw and Benny Boynton of the 1924 Buffalo Bisons are the only players to previously accomplish the feat. Beckham, who leads the Giants with 1,052 receiving yards in 2018, is the only player in league history with at least 1,000 receiving yards and multiple touchdown passes in a single season.

Barkley has 954 rushing yards this season and surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer Tuffy Leemans (830 rushing yards in 1936) for the most rushing yards by a rookie in franchise history.

•Houston defeated Cleveland, 29-13, and have won nine consecutive games, the longest active streak in the NFL. The Texans are the first team in league history to win nine consecutive games immediately following an 0-3 start to the season.

Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson passed for 224 yards and one touchdown in the victory. Watson, who appeared in his 19th career game today, threw a first-quarter touchdown pass to rookie tight end Jordan Thomas, marking the 40th touchdown pass of his career. Watson is the fourth-fastest player in NFL history to reach 40 career touchdown passes, trailing only Pro Football Hall of Famers Kurt Warner (17 games) and Dan Marino (18) and the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahones, who threw his 40th career touchdown pass in his 13th career game last Sunday.

•Denver rookie running back Phillip Lindsay rushed for 157 yards and two touchdowns, including a 65-yard touchdown run, in the Broncos’ 24-10 victory at Cincinnati.

Lindsay, who has 1,126 scrimmage yards (937 rushing, 189 receiving) this season, is the fourth undrafted rookie since 1970 to record at least 1,000 scrimmage yards in a single season, joining Dominic Rhodes (1,328 scrimmage yards in 2001), Clark Gaines (1,124 in 1976) and Le Garrette Blount (1,021 in 2010).

•Other notable performances from Week 13 Sunday included:

Tampa Bay safety Andrew Adams tied a franchise record with three interceptions in the Buccaneers’ 24-17 victory over NFC South rival Carolina at Raymond James Stadium.

Adams joined Ronde Barber, who had three interceptions on both December 23, 2001 and December 4, 2005 against New Orleans, and Aqib Talib (three interceptions on October 4, 2009 against Washington) as the only players in franchise history with three interceptions in a single game. Adams is the fifth NFL player since 2010 to record at least three interceptions in a single game and the first since Tennessee’s Kevin Byard on October 22, 2017 against Cleveland.

Chicago defensive tackle Akiem Hicks recorded one sack and rushed for a one-yard score in the Bears’ overtime loss at the New York Giants. Hicks is the second Bears defensive lineman to rush for a touchdown in the regular season, joining William “The Refrigerator” Perry who accomplished the feat twice in 1985 (October 21 vs. Green Bay and November 24 vs. Atlanta).

Buffalo rookie quarterback Josh Allen threw for 231 yards with two touchdowns and rushed for 135 yards in the Bills’ loss at Miami. Allen is the fourth player in league history with at least two touchdown passes and 125+ rushing yards in a single game, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer WALTER PAYTON (September 18, 1983 at New Orleans), Tobin Rote (November 22, 1951 at Detroit) and Michael Vick (December 19, 2010 at the New York Giants).

Carolina running back Christian McCaffery rushed for 106 yards on 10 carries (10.6 average) and had nine catches for 55 yards with a touchdown in the Panthers’ loss at Tampa Bay. McCaffrey, who would later leave the contest with a foot injury, is the first player in NFL history to recor​d at least 50 rushing yards and 50 receiving yards in five consecutive games.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN WEEK 14

WORST TO FIRST: Entering Week 14, one team – the Los Angeles Rams (11-1) – clinched a playoff berth as the battle for the remaining spots forges ahead. Three ​​additional teams – Houston (9-3), New England (9-3) and New Orleans (10-2) – can clinch a division title this week.

Two teams that finished in or tied for last place in their division in 2017 – Chicago (NFC North) and Houston Texans (AFC South) – are currently in first place in their respective divisions this season. In 14 of the past 15 seasons, at least one team finished in first place in its division the season after finishing in last or tied for last place. Of the 46 teams in league history to go from “worst-to-first,” 23 of them have done so in the past 15 years (2003-17), including an NFL-record three such teams in 2005 and 2006.

STAT PATTING: Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes leads the NFL with 41 touchdown passes and ranks second in passing yards (3,923).

With 77 passing yards on Sunday against Baltimore at 1 p.m. on CBS, Mahomes would join Pro Football Hall of Famers Dan Marino (1984) and Kurt Warner (1999) as the only first-or-second year quarterbacks in NFL history to pass for at least 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns in a single season. Both Marino and Warner were named Associated Press MVP in those seasons.

The first-or-second year quarterbacks to pass for at least 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns in a single season in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON)(PASSING YARDS/TOUCHDOWNS)
Dan Marino, Miami (1984)(5,084/48)^#
Kurt Warner, St. Louis (1999)(4,353.41)^#
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City (2018)(3,923/41)*
^Pro Football Hall of Famer
#Named Associated Press MVP
*Entering Week 14

RAISING ARIZONA: Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has 1,281 receptions for 16,053 yards and 115 touchdowns during his 15-year NFL career, all with the Cardinals.

With one reception on Sunday against Detroit at 4:25 p.m. on FOX, Fitzgerald would surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerry Rice (1,281 receptions with San Francisco) for the most receptions by a player with one team in NFL history.

The players with the most receptions for one team in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (RECEPTIONS)
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona (1,281)
Jerry Rice, San Francisco (1,281)^
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

FIFTH FOR FRANK: Miami running back Frank Gore has 18,414 scrimmage yards in his 14-year NFL career.

With 43 scrimmage yards on Sunday against New England at 1 p.m. on CBS, Gore would surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson (18,456 scrimmage yards) for the fifth-most scrimmage yards in league annals.

The players with the most scrimmage yards in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAM(S) (SCRIMMAGE YARDS)
Jerry Rice – San Francisco, Oakland and Seattle (23,540)^
Emmitt Smith – Dallas and Arizona (21,579)^
Walter Payton – Chicago (21,264)^
Marshall Faulk – Indianapolis and St. Louis (19,154)^
LaDainian Tomlinson – San Diego and New York Jets (18,456)^
Frank Gore – San Francisco, Indianapolis, Miami (18,414)
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

TOUCHDOWN STREAK: Cleveland rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield has thrown at least one touchdown pass in each of his first nine NFL starts.

With a touchdown pass against Carolina (1:00 PM ET, FOX), Mayfield would become the third quarterback in the Super Bowl era to record at least one touchdown pass in each of his first 10 career starts.

The players with a touchdown pass in each of their first 10 career starts since 1966:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASONS)
Kurt Warner, St. Louis (1999)^
Brad Johnson, Minnesota (1996-97)
Baker Mayfield, Cleveland (2018)*
^Pro Football Hall of Famer
*Has TD pass in each of first nine starts

SAQUON FROM SCRIMMAGE: New York Giants rookie running back Saquon Barkley had 146 scrimmage yards (125 rushing, 21 receiving) in the Giants’ Week 13 overtime victory against Chicago. Barkley leads the NFL with 11 games of at least 100 scrimmage yards in 2018.

With 100 scrimmage yards on Sunday at Washington at 1 p.m. on FOX, Barkley would tie Edgerrin James (12 games in 1999) for the second-most games with at least 100 scrimmage yards by a rookie in NFL history. Only Pro Football Hall of Famer ERIC DICKERSON (13 games in 1983) has more such games.

The rookies with the most games with at least 100 scrimmage yards in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON, GAMES WITH 100+ SCRIMMAGE YARDS)
Eric Dickerson, Los Angeles Rams (1983, 13)^#
Edgerrin James, Indianapolis (1999, 12)#
Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (2018, 11)*
^Pro Football Hall of Famer
#Named Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year
*Entering Week 14

RECORD-SETTING RECEIVER: Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown has 81 receptions for 1,028 yards and leads the NFL with 12 touchdown receptions this season.

With 10 receptions on Sunday at Oakland at 4:25 p.m. on FOX, Brown, who has 663 receptions since 2013, can surpass Wes Welker (672 from 2007-12) for the most catches by a player over any six-year span in NFL history.

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

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASONS, RECEPTIONS)
Wes Welker, New England (2007-12, 672)
Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh (2013-18, 663)*
Marvin Harrison, Indianapolis (1999-2004, 649)^
^Pro Football Hall of Famer
*In sixth year of span

Brown, who had 154 receiving yards in Week 13, has 8,876 receiving yards since 2013 and surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerry Rice (8,759 from 1990-1995) for the most receiving yards by a player over any six-year span in NFL history.

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

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASONS, RECIEVEING YARDS)
Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh (2013-18, 8,876)*
Jerry Rice, San Francisco (1990-95, 8,759)^
Marvin Harrison, Indianapolis (1999-2004, 8,707)^
^Pro Football Hall of Famer
*In sixth year of span

ZACH ATTACK: Philadelphia tight end Zach Ertz ranks second in the NFL with 93 receptions and second among tight ends with 978 receiving yards this season.

With seven receptions and 22 receiving yards on Sunday at Dallas at 4:25 p.m. on FOX, Ertz can become the fourth tight end in NFL history to record at least 100 receptions and 1,000 receiving yards in a single season.

The tight ends with at least 100 receptions and 1,000 receiving yards in a single season in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON)(RECEPTIONS-RECEIVING YARDS)

Jason Witten, Dallas (2012)(110-1,039)#
Dallas Clark, Indianapolis (2009)(100-1,106)
Tony Gonzalez, Kansas City (2004)(102-1,252)
Zach Ertz, Philadelphia (2018)(93-978)*
*Entering Week 14
#Single-season record by a tight end

DOMINANT DONALD: Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald leads the NFL with 16.5 sacks this season and has recorded at least two sacks in each of his past three games.

With two sacks on Sunday Night Football at Chicago at 8:20 p.m. on NBC, Donald can become the fourth player since 1982, when the individual sack became an official statistic, to record at least two sacks in four consecutive games in a single season, joining Simeon Rice (five games in 2002) and Pro Football Hall of Famers Kevin Greene (four games in 1998) and Reggie White (four games in 1987).

The players with the most consecutive games with at least two sacks in a single season since 1982:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON, CONSECUTIVE GAMES WITH 2+ SACKS)
Simeon Rice, Tampa Bay (2002-5)
Kevin Greene, Carolina (1998-4)^
Reggie White, Philadelphia (1987-4)^
Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams (2018-3)*
^Pro Football Hall of Famer
*Active streak

Donald, who has recorded at least two sacks in six games this season, can become the fourth player since 1982 to record at least seven games with two-or-more sacks in a single season, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers Reggie White (eight games in 1987), Chris Doleman (seven games in 1989) and Bruce Smith (seven games in 1990).

The players with the most games with two-or-more sacks in a single season since 1982:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON-GAMES WITH 2+ SACKS)
Reggie White, Philadelphia (1987-8)^#
Chris Doleman, Minnesota (1989-7)^
Bruce Smith, Buffalo (1990-7)^#
Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams (2018-6)*
^Pro Football Hall of Famer
#Named Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year
*Entering Week 14

JONES-ING FOR MORE: Kansas City defensive lineman Chris Jones ties for fifth in the AFC with 10 sacks this season and has recorded at least one sack in eight consecutive games.

With a sack on Sunday against Baltimore at 1 p.m. on CBS, Jones would become the sixth player since 1982 to record at least one sack in nine consecutive games and the first player since 1982 to record nine consecutive games with at least one sack within a single season.

The players with the most consecutive games with at least one sack since 1982:

PLAYER – TEAM(S)(SEASONS)(CONSECUTIVE GAMES WITH A SACK)

DeMarcus Ware – Dallas (2007-08)(10)
Simon Fletcher – Denver (1992-93)(10)
Dwight Freeney – Indianapolis (2008-09)(9)
Kevin Greene – San Francisco and Carolina (1997-98)(9)^
Bruce Smith – Buffalo (1986-87)(9)^
Chris Jones – Kansas City (2018)(8)*
^Pro Football Hall of Famer
*Active streak

With four weeks remaining on the schedule, much is still to be decided. Thirty of the league’s 32 teams remain in contention as the NFL enters Week 14.

Seven divisional matchups highlight an exciting slate of games in Week 14:

On Sunday afternoon, the Houston Texans welcomes Indianapolis to NRG Stadium at 1 p.m. on CBS in an AFC South battle. The Texans (9-3) lead the Colts (6-6) and the Titans (6-6) by three games in the division and look to extend their league-leading nine game winning streak. Since entering the league in 2017, Houston quarterback DeShaun Watson is one of two NFL quarterbacks (Russell Wilson) with a 100+ passer rating (101.8) and at least 500 rushing yards (644). Colts quarterback Andrew Luck has thrown at least three touchdown passes in eight of his past nine games and ranks second in the league with 32 touchdown passes this season.

New England and Miami square off on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. on CBS at Hard Rock Stadium. The Patriots look to clinch their 10th consecutive AFC East title and extend the longest streak of consecutive division titles in NFL history. New England quarterback Tom Brady (579 touchdown passes, including the postseason) needs one touchdown pass to surpass Peyton Manning for the most in NFL history. Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard had two interceptions in Week 13 and has three games with multiple interceptions in 2018, the most in the NFL.

Baltimore rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson leads the Ravens into Arrowhead Stadium to take on Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs at 1 p.m. on CBS. Winners of three consecutive games, the Ravens (7-5) look to maintain their place in the thick of the AFC postseason race, while the Chiefs (10-2) aim to stay atop the AFC West. Jackson, who has won each of his first three starts, is the first rookie quarterback in league history to rush for at least 70 yards in three consecutive games. Mahomes, who leads the NFL with 41 touchdown passes and ranks second with 3,923 passing yards, can become the third first-or-second year quarterback in league annals to throw for at least 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns in a single season, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers Dan Marino (1984) and Kurt Warner (1999). Both Marino and Warner were named Associated Press Most Valuable Player in those seasons.

A battle of first-place teams in the NFC takes center stage as the Los Angeles Rams and Chicago Bears square off at Soldier Field on NBC’s Sunday Night Football at 8:20 p.m. on NBC. Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald leads the NFL with 16.5 sacks this season and has recorded at least two sacks in each of his past three games. Rams running back Todd Gurley leads the NFL with 19 touchdowns this season and quarterback Jared Goff ranks second in the NFL with 3,754 passing yards. The duo can make the Rams just the sixth team in league history to have a quarterback with at least 4,000 passing yards and a player with 20+ scrimmage touchdowns in a single season. Bears safety Eddie Jackson has an interception-return touchdown in two of his past three games and leads the NFL with three defensive touchdowns this season.

2018 NFL PLAYOFF SCENARIOS FOR WEEK 14

NFC

CLINCHED: Los Angeles Rams – NFC West division title

Los Angeles Rams (11-1) at Chicago (8-4), Sunday night at 8:20 p.m. on NBC

Los Angeles clinches a first round bye with:

1) Los Angeles Rams win

New Orlens (10-2) at Tampa Bay (5-7), Sunday at 1 p.m. on FOX

New Orleans clinches NFC South division title with:

1) New Orlens win or tie OR

2) Carolina loss or tie

New Orleans clinches a playoff berth with:

1) Minnesota loss + Philadelphia loss or tie + Washington loss or tie

AFC

Kansas City (10-2) vs. Baltimore (7-5), Sunday at 1 p.m. on CBS

Kansas City clinches a playoff berth with:

1) Kansas City win or tie OR

2) Miami loss or tie + Indianapolis loss or tie

New England (9-3) at Miami (6-6), Sunday at 1 p.m. on CBS

New England clinches AFC East division title with:

1) New England win or tie

Houston (9-3) vs. Indianapolis (6-6), Sunday at 1 p.m. on CBS

Houston clinches AFC South division title with:

1) Houston win + OR

2) Houston tie

Los Angeles Chargers (9-3) vs. Cincinnati (5-7), Sunday at 4:05 p.m. on CBS

Los Angeles clinches a playoff berth with:

1) Los Angeles Chargers win + Miami loss or tie + Denver loss or tie + Indianapolis loss or tie OR

2) Los Angeles Chargers tie + Miami loss + DEN loss + Indianapolis loss or tie as long as Indianapolis doesn’t tie

Week 14 opened in Nashville with Tennessee downing Jacksonville 30-9 in the Music City and closes on Monday night as the Minnesota Vikings travel to Seattle to take on the Seahawks in a key NFC matchup at 8:15 p.m. on ESPN. Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins second in the league with a 71.3 completion percentage (minimum 200 attempts) and is one of three quarterbacks (Drew Brees and Matt Ryan) with a 70+ completion percentage and at least 3,000 passing yards (3,490) this season. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson ranks third in the league with a 5.8 touchdown-to-interception ratio (29 touchdowns and five interceptions) and is one of four NFL quarterbacks with a passer rating of at least 115 this season (115.5).

As for last week? Much better, going 9-7 for the week, which puts us at 111-77 for the season. There’s still a lot of football left before we come to the end. With that, here are the Sunday and Monday picks for week 14.

ATLANTA (4-8) at Green Bay (4-7-1), 1 p.m. on FOX. A pair of struggling NFC team meet in the land of beer, cheese and Bratwurst as Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons make their way to Lambeau Field for an early afternoon meeting with Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. Both clubs look to end losing streaks with hopes of making a run into the post-season party.

Atlanta, who will play their second interim coach this season (they faced Gregg Williams, who took over in Cleveland when the Browns let Hue Jackson go; Atlanta would lose that contest in Cleveland), watched Baltimore break a 10-10 tie at the intermission and dropped a 26-16 decision to the Ravens last Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Atlanta had led 10-7 with 11:33 thanks to a 74-yard fumble return by LB Vic Beasley before Ravens K Jeff Tucker would kick the first of his four field goals with six seconds left before intermission to tie things up at 10-10. Tucker would later go on to add three more field goals, with one coming as part of a 14-play, 60-yard drive that used 8:08 of game clock (19 minutes of actual time; the Ravens had three drives of 10 plays or more in the contest). Baltimore would then seal the Falcons’ fate when Tavon Young picked up a Matt Ryan fumble and returned it 12 yards fpr the score. Atlanta would make it a 10-point game with 4:18 left when TE Austin Hooper and Ryan connected on a one-yard TD toss. Baltimore outrushed Atlanta 207-34 and Jackson threw for 125 yards and had a rushing TD, while Ryan threw for 131 yards and the fourth quarter toss to Hooper (Ryan was sacked three times, Jackson was sacked twice, neither threw an interception). Atlanta, dropping their fourth contest in a row, was 2 for 9 on third down (the Falcons were 0 for 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 20:21, while the Ravens ruled the clock, keeping the pigskin for 39:39, going 7 of 15 on third down, 2 of 2 on fourth down.

Green Bay is also looking to break a losing streak, dropping their third in a row, losing at home to Arizona 20-17 at Lambeau Field in a contest that cost Mike McCarthy his job as head coach (he was replaced by offensive co-ordinator Joe Philbin in the interim). Green Bay led 10-7 at the intermission before Arizona stormed back in the second half and took the lead with 1:41 left in regulation when Zavier Gonzalez booted a 44-yard field goal to take the 20-17 lead. Green Bay made its way downfield after they got the ball back on the ensuing kickoff and would get as far as Arizona’s 31-yard line with three seconds left in hopes of tying the contest and sending it to overtime but Mason Crosby’s 49-yard try sailed wide to the right, sending Packer fans home unhappy. The Desert Angry Birds outrushed the Packers 182-98 and Rodgers threw for 233 yards and a TD pass to Davante Adams, while Josh Rosen threw for 149 yards for Arizona (Rosen was sacked twice, Rodgers was sacked once and neither man had an interception). Green Bay was a somewhat dismal 3 of 14 on third down but was perfect on fourth down, going 2 of 2 and kept the ball for 32:26, while Arizona held on to the pigskin for 27:34, while going 5 of 13 on third down.

While Green Bay leads the series 15-14 and the Packers have outscored Atlanta 715-620, Atlanta has won the last two regular season meeting and both of those wins came in the Big Peach, including a 34-23 win last year (Green Bay’s last win over Atlanta came in 2014 at Lambeau by a final of 43-37).

The teams met in week two and Atlanta broke a 7-7 tie at the end of the first quarter and took a 24-7 lead with them to the intermission, despite being outscored by Green Bay in the second half 16-10. Atlanta outrushed Green Bay 141-59, while Rodgers threw for 343 yards and a pair of TDs, with Ryan having a TD toss and no interceptions, tallying 252 (Rodgers and Ryan were each sacked three times with Rodgers throwing an interception). Atlanta was 5 for 11 on third down in the Big Peach, keeping the ball for 28:37, while the Packers, who ruled the clock and held on to the ball for 31:23, went 5 for 12 on third down, 3 of 3 on fourth down.

Atlanta covered the 2 1/2-point spread with their 11-point win and both teams covered the 54 over/under with 57 points. This time, Green Bay’s favored by 6 and the over/under’s 49. For one team, their losing streak comes to an end; for the other, their streak continues and their playoff hopes are damaged beyond repair. Packer fans are going to have their hearts broken this week. Atlanta my not cover the 6 on the road but they walk out of Lambeau with the win.

New York Jets (3-9) at Buffalo (4-8), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 705. They meet again. A pair of AFC East/AFL rivals meet for the second time, this time in upstate New York with slim playoff chances as Buffalo and the New York Jets meet along the shores of Lake Erie.

GangGreen let a 16-6 halftime lead against Marcus Mariota and the Titans get away from them, as Tennessee rallied in the final 30 minutes of action to take a 26-22 win at Nissan Stadium, with the Titans outscoring GangGreen 20-6 and chipping away at the New York lead with a pair of Ryan Succop field goals, then taking the lead for keeps with 36 seconds left when WR Corey Davis caught an 11-yard TD pass from Mariota for their first lead of the day. Tennessee then held off a late J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! rall to take the win in the late afternoon contest. GangGreen outrushed the Titans 156-130 with Jets RB Isaiah Crowell leading the way with 98 yards. Mariota threw for 282 yards and a pair of TDs (including the game-winner), while Josh McCown threw for 128 yards (McCown was sacked twice, Mariota sacked three times; both men threw an interception) for New York. The Titans were a somewhat dismal 1 for 11 on third down and kept the ball for 26:38, while the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! actually ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 33:22, going 3 for 14 on third down conversions.

Buffalo’s rally at Miami fell short as the Dolphins held off the Bills 21-17 at Hard Rock Stadium. Miami took a 14-6 lead with them to the intermission in the Sunshine State last Sunday afternoon before the Bills would rally in the second half, outscoring the Dolphins 11-7 in the final 30 minutes of the contest. The Bills would take a 17-14 lead with 12 minutes left in regulation when WR Zay Jones and QB Josh Allen connected on a 25-yard TD pass and the two-point conversion. Miami would restore order later in the period when WR Kenny Stills and QB Ryan Tannehill connected on a 13-yard TD pass to reclaim the lead. Buffalo would later get the ball back with 2:33 left to play and get as close as the Miami 30-yard line with hopes of taking the lead back but Allen’s pass to TE Charles Clay was incomplete. Buffalo outrushed Miami 198-60 and Allen led all rushers with 135 yards, while throwing for 231 yards and a pair of TDs (Allen was sacked twice and picked off twice), while Tannehill led Miami with 137 yards and three TD, while being picked off once and sacked three times. Buffalo was 5 for 13 on third down conversions (they were 0 for 1 on fourth down) and actually ruled the clock as they kept the ball for 32:57, while the Dolphins kept the ball for 27:03, while going 2 for 9 on third down.

Buffalo led the New York Jets 31-3 at Met Life Stadium in the week 10 contest at the intermission and took their AFC East rivals from upstate New York to the woodshed, coming out on top 41-10 to break their four-game losing streak. Bills backup QB Matt Barkley burned GangGreen for 232 yards and a pair of TDs, while Buffalo RB LeSean McCoy ran for 113 yards and a pair of rushing TDs in the lopsided contest. Buffalo outrushed the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! 212-83, while Josh McCown threw for 135 yards with three sacks and a pair of interceptions (Barkley was sacked once but did not throw an interception). GangGreen was 1 for 12 on third down tries (they were 2 for 3 on fourth down) and held on to the ball for 20:38, while the Bills ruled the clock and kept the ball for 39:22, while they went 8 of 16 on third down and 1 of 1 on fourth down.

In the week 10 contest in the Meadowlands, the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! were favored by 7 1/2 and Buffalo covered, winning by 31. Both teams easily took care of the 37 over/under, aSEs the two clubs merged to score 51 points. The boys and girls in Vegas like Buffalo again, this time as 3 1/2-point favorites with a 38 1/2 over/under. The winner? They get to keep their slim playoff hopes alive for at least one more week. As for the loser? Their magic number is next year. Bills complete the sweep in upstate New York and take the win, covering the 3 1/2.

Carolina (6-6) at Cleveland (4-7-1), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 709. A pair of former Heisman winners meet along the shores of Lake Erie as Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers travel to Cleveland for a Sunday afternoon meeting with Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns. Both clubs took road losses in last week’s action.

Carolina was taken to task by Tampa Bay 24-17 last Sunday in Tampa in a battle of two former Heisman winners. The Panthers trailed Jameis Winston and the Buccaneers 17-7 at the break, then rallied to pull themselves to within seven with 2:24 left in the third quarter when Newton and WR Darren Funchess connected on a 10-yard TD pass to trail 24-17. The two clubs then played a scoreless fourth quarter and the Panthers then had one last rally as they got the ball at their 26-yard line, getting as close as their 44-yard line when Tampa Bay was penalized for an enproachment penalty with :00 left on the clock. Because a half or game can’t end on a defensive penalty, Carolina was given an untimed down and the Panther hopes were dashed when backup QB Taylor Heinicke’s last-ditch pass to D.J. Moore fell incomplete. Carolina outrushed Tampa Bay 168-95 with RB Christian McCaffery rushing for 106 yards before leaving the contest with a foot injury, while Newton threw for 300 for Carolina and Winston throwing for 249 yards (both men threw a pair of TD passes, both were sacked four times and Newton threw four interceptions). Carolina was 3 of 8 on third down, 0 for 1 on fourth down and held on to the ball for 30:06. As for Tampa Bay? They kept the pigskin for 29:54 and went 6 for 13 on third down tries at Raymond James Stadium.

Cleveland found themselves taken to the woodshed by Houston last Sunday, falling 29-13 at NRG Stadium to the Texans. The Texans led 23-0 at the half and watched the Browns outscore Houston 13-6 in the second half to make the contest closer. Houston outrushed Cleveland 187-31 (Nick Chubb was Cleveland’s only rusher), with Houston’s Lamar Miller leading the way with 103 in the 16-point defeat. Mayfield threw for 397 yards with a TD to Rashard Higgins but threw three interceptions, while Deshaun Watson threw for 224 yards with a TD, despite being sacked four times. Houston was 8 for 16 on third down tries and held on to the ball for 37:35, while the Browns kept the ball for 22:25 while going 2 for 8 on third down and 0 of 2 on fourth down.

Carolina holds a 4-1 lead in the series and the Panthers have outscored Cleveland 104-72. Their last meeting took place in 2014 in Charlotte with the Panthers taking a 17-13 win, while Cleveland’s lone win in the series came in 2010 along the shores of Lake Erie by a final of 24-23. Carolina’s favored by a point with the over/under 47. The Browns are actually better than their record and have given the NFC South problems this year. Carolina will put an end to that problem as Newton and the Panthers take the win on the shore of Lake Erie and cover the 1.

Indianapolis (6-6) at Houston (9-3), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 706. A pair of AFC South teams meet in the Lone Star State as Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts come to NRG Stadium to face off against first-place Houston.

The Colts found themselves on the wrong end of a 6-0 shutout at the hands of the Jacksonville Jaguars last Sunday in the Sunshine State. Jacksonville, without RB Leonard Fournette, who sat out his one-game suspension for a fight in Buffalo, got a pair of Josh Lambo field goals to pitch the shutout and take the win. After a scoreless first quarter, Lambo’s 30-yard field goal would give the Jaguars a 3-0 lead with 2:03 left before the half to open the scoring in the contest. Jacksonville would then take that lead with them to the break and the contest stayed that way through the third quarter. Lambo would then connect again, this time from 37 yards out for the 6-0 lead. Jacksonville then proceeded to end a Colts threat that would have given Luck the lead late in the contest, as the Jaguars would wind up breaking their seven-game losing streak in the process.

Neither club broke the 100-yard rushing barrier but Jacksonville did win that battle, outrushing the Colts 79-41. Luck did manage to throw for 248 yards but threw an interception, while Cody Kessler threw for 150 yards and no interceptions (both Keesler and Luck were sacked three times).

Houston won their ninth in a row, taking Cleveland and Baker Mayfield to task 29-13 at NRG Stadium to the Texans. The Texans led 23-0 at the half and watched the Browns outscore Houston 13-6 in the second half to make the contest closer. Houston outrushed Cleveland 187-31 (Nick Chubb was Cleveland’s only rusher), with Houston’s Lamar Miller leading the way with 103 in the 16-point defeat. Mayfield threw for 397 yards with a TD to Rashard Higgins but threw three interceptions, while Deshaun Watson threw for 224 yards with a TD, despite being sacked four times. Houston was 8 for 16 on third down tries and held on to the ball for 37:35, while the Browns kept the ball for 22:25 while going 2 for 8 on third down and 0 of 2 on fourth down.

The Colts lead the series 25-7 and have outscored the Texans 833-619. Indy swept last year’s series, taking wins in the Hoosier State and the Lone Star State, while Houston’s last win came in 2016, when they swept the series that year.

Their first meeting took place in Houston in week nine and the Colts would come away 20-14 winners at NRG Stadium. Indy led 10-7 at the half and then held a late Houston rally to seal the win. While Houston did outrush the Colts 94-92, Jacoby Brissett (taking over for Andrew Luck) threw for 308 yards and a pair of TDs to T.Y. Hilton, with Tom Savage (who took over for DeSean Watson) threw for 219 yards and a TD (neither man threw an interception, Brissett was sacked three times, Savage was sacked twice). Both teams were 4 for 14 on third down tries (the Texans were 0 for 1 on fourth down) and the Colts kept the ball for 30:59 to Houston’s 29:01.

The Colts made the sweep of the series official in week 17, taking a 22-13 win to close out the regular season finale for both clubs, since neither was going to be in the post-season. Indy erased a 13-7 deficit at the break and proceeded to shutout Houston the rest of the way, scoring their last 15 points of the game unchallenged. Indianapolis’ RB Frank Gore rand for 100 yards in the contest to lead all rushers, as the Colts outrushed Houston 146-85 and Brissett threw for 114 yards and a TD, while T.J. Yeats threw for 137 yards with a pair of sacks and an interception (Brissett was sacked once but did not throw an interception). Houston went 5 for 11 on third down conversions at Lucas Oil Stadium and kept the ball for 28:47, while the Colts ruled the clock and kept the ball for 31:13, going 6 of 13 on third down tries.

In the week nine contest in the Lone Star State, the Texans were favored by 7 and the Colts won by 6. As for the 45 1/2 over/under? It was safe and sound, as both teams merged for 34 points. In the week 17 contest, the Colts covered the 3 1/2-point spread, winning by 9 but as was the case in the earlier meeting, neither team covered the over/under (which was 41), with the two teams combining for 35 points. The Texans in this meeting are favored by 4 1/2 and the over/under’s 48 1/2. Both numbers are reasonable and make sense. The Texans are trying to make it 10 in a row and keep hold of first place in the AFC South, while the Colts would love nothing more than to end the streak. Streak on, Texans! Houston covers the 4 1/2 and wins in the Lone Star State.

Baltimore (7-5) at Kansas City (10-2), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 707. A pair of up and coming QBs meet in the Show-Me State as Baltimore comes to Arrowhead for a meeting with the Kansas City Chiefs. Both clubs were road winners in their last contests.

Baltimore used three drives of 10 plays or more to break a 10-10 tie at the intermission and take a 26-16 in Atlanta last Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Ravens trailed led 10-7 with 11:33 thanks to a 74-yard fumble return by LB Vic Beasley before Ravens K Jeff Tucker would kick the first of his four field goals with six seconds left before intermission to tie things up at 10-10. Tucker then added three more field goals, with one coming as part of a 14-play, 60-yard drive that used 8:08 of game clock (19 minutes of actual time; the Ravens had three drives of 10 plays or more in the contest). Baltimore then sealed Atlantas’ fate in the Big Peach when Tavon Young picked up a Matt Ryan fumble and returned it 12 yards fpr the score. Atlanta would make it a 10-point game with 4:18 left when TE Austin Hooper and Ryan connected on a one-yard TD toss. Baltimore outrushed Atlanta 207-34 and Jackson threw for 125 yards and had a rushing TD, while Ryan threw for 131 yards and the fourth quarter toss to Hooper (Ryan was sacked three times, Jackson was sacked twice, neither threw an interception). Atlanta, dropping their fourth contest in a row, was 2 for 9 on third down (the Falcons were 0 for 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 20:21, while the Ravens ruled the clock, keeping the pigskin for 39:39, going 7 of 15 on third down, 2 of 2 on fourth down.

The Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes bounced back from their 4-point loss against the Los Angeles Rams and put an end to Oakland’s dwindling playoff hopes last Sunday as they took the Raiders 40-33 at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. Kansas City led 19-7, then pulled away after the Silver and Black made it a 9-point contest early in the third quarter. Kansas City outrushed their AFC West rival 174-171 and Mahomes threw for 295 yards with four TDs (connecting with TE Travis Kelce on two of them) and no sacks or interceptions, while Oakland’s Derek Carr threw for 285 yards with three TDs and three sacks. Kansas City was 6 of 13 on third down (Andy Reid’s Chiefs were successful on fourth down, going 1 of 1) and kept the ball for 29:14, while the Raiders ruled the clock and kept the ball for 30:46, going 9 for 12 on third down conversions.

Kansas City leads the series 4-3 and the Chiefs have outscored Baltimore 153-123. Each team took their last win in the other team’s facility; Kansas City’s last win came in Charm City by a final of 34-14 in 2015, while Baltimore’s last win came in the Show-Me State in 2012 by a 9-6 final. Kansas City’s favored by 7 at Arrowhead and the over/under’s 53 1/2. For the Chiefs, a win means that they’re one step closer to the AFC West title and a possible number one seed in the post-season; for the Ravens, it’s a chance to pull themselves a little closer to Pittsburgh. We think the Steelers are going to be Chiefs fans today. Everything’s up to date in Kansas City as the Chiefs cover the 7 and win at Arrowhead.

New England (9-3) at Miami (6-6), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 708. Tom Brady and the New England Patriots travel to the Sunshine State for an AFC East matchup with the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium, with both clubs winning last week’s contest in their home ballparks.

Brady and the Pats took care of business in Foxboro last Sunday against Minnesota, coming away 24-10 winners at Gillette Stadium. New England led 10-7 at the half, then held the Vikings to a third quarter field goal from Dan Bailey to take the home win. New England outrushed Minnesota 160-95 (Minnesota’s Dalvin Cook led all rushers with 84 yards), with James Delvin having a pair of rushing TDs, while Brady threw for 311 yards and a TD with an interception, while Kirk Cousins threw for 201 yards with a TD to WR Adam Thielen (Cousins was sacked twice and threw a pair of interceptions). Brady and New England was 7 of 14 on third down conversions in Foxboro (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and held on to the ball for 33:21, while the Vikings held on to the ball for 26:39, going 3 of 12 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth down.

Miami held off a late Buffalo Bills rally last Sunday, coming away 21-17 winners at Hard Rock Stadium. Miami took a 14-6 lead with them to the intermission in the Sunshine State last Sunday afternoon before Buffalo rallied in the second half, outscoring the Dolphins 11-7 in the final 30 minutes of the contest. The Bills would then take a 17-14 lead with 12 minutes left in regulation when WR Zay Jones and QB Josh Allen connected on a 25-yard TD pass and the two-point conversion. Miami would restore order later in the period when WR Kenny Stills and QB Ryan Tannehill connected on a 13-yard TD pass to reclaim the lead. Buffalo would later get the ball back with 2:33 left to play and get as close as the Miami 30-yard line with hopes of taking the lead back but Allen’s pass to TE Charles Clay was incomplete. Buffalo outrushed Miami 198-60 and Allen led all rushers with 135 yards, while throwing for 231 yards and a pair of TDs (Allen was sacked twice and picked off twice), while Tannehill led Miami with 137 yards and three TD, while being picked off once and sacked three times. Buffalo was 5 for 13 on third down conversions (they were 0 for 1 on fourth down) and actually ruled the clock as they kept the ball for 32:57, while the Dolphins kept the ball for 27:03, while going 2 for 9 on third down.

The Pats knocked Miami out of the ranks of the Miami fell unbeatens after Brady and New England beat their AFC East rival 38-7 at Foxboro in their week four meeting. The Patroits scored the first 38 points of the contest unchallenged and the Dolphins trailed 24-0 at thee intermission before finally tallying their lone score in the contest when Frank Gore and Brock Osweiler connected on a 6-yard TD toss with 2:42 left to play. Miami found themselves held to 56 yards rushing, while the Patroits would tally 175 of their own (with Sony Michel leading all rushers with 112 yards and a TD) and Brady throwing for 274 yards and a pair of TD passes. New England was 10 of 16 on third down and held on the ball for 36:22, while the Dolphins were 23:38 in time of possession, going 3 of 11 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down.

New England’s 31-point win in Foxboro allowed them to cover the 7-point spread in the week four contest but both clubs barely missed the 47 1/2 over/under, as the two teams combined for 45 points. While the Patriots are the road team, they’re also favored by 8 1/2 in the Sunshine State and the over/under’s 47 1/2. For New England, a win for them means another AFC East title; for the Dolphins, a win for them means that the Pats will have to wait another week. Fins will make Brady and the boys wait another week. New England will make things tough and closer than 8 1/2 for Miami but the Dolphins prevail at home in the Sunshine State.

New Orleans (10-2) at Tampa Bay (5-7), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 711. New Orleans and Tampa Bay meet in the Sunshine State in a week one rematch at Raymond James Stadium. While the Saints come in off a road loss two Thursday nights ago, the Buccaneers held off NFC South rival Carolina at home in the Sunshine State.

The Saints were shut out by Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys in the first half, trailing 13-0 at the break before scoring 10 third quarter points of their own unchallenged and still came up short, falling 13-10 to the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. The Saints would make it a 3-point contest when WR Keith Kirkwood and Drew Brees connected on a 38-yard TD toss with 68 seconds left in the third, then saw a fourth quarter rally that would have either tie things up or given New Orleans the lead when Brees was picked off by CB Jourdan Lewis to end the threat. Dallas, who got a pair of field goals from Brett Maher and a rushing TD by Ezekiel Elliot, outrushed New Orleans 100-65 and Brees threw for 127 yards with a TD and a pair of sacks, while Prescott threw for 248 yards with the TD toss to Elliot and was sacked seven times but had no interceptions. Dallas was 7 for 14 on third down tries and held on to the ball for 36:53, while the Saints held on to the ball for 23:07, going 3 for 11 on third down, 0 for 1 on fourth down.

In a meeting of former Heisman winners, Tampa Bay held off NFC South foe Carolina 24-17 last Sunday at Raymond James Stadium. Jameis Winston and the Buccaneers led Cam Newton and the Panthers 17-7 at the break, then watch the Panthers rally to pull themselves to within seven with 2:24 left in the third quarter when Newton and WR Darren Funchess connected on a 10-yard TD pass to trail 24-17. The two clubs then played a scoreless fourth quarter and the Panthers then had one last rally as they got the ball at their 26-yard line, getting as close as their 44-yard line when Tampa Bay was penalized for an enproachment penalty with :00 left on the clock. Because a half or game can’t end on a defensive penalty, Carolina was given an untimed down and the Panther hopes were dashed when backup QB Taylor Heinicke’s last-ditch pass to D.J. Moore fell incomplete. Carolina outrushed Tampa Bay 168-95 with RB Christian McCaffery rushing for 106 yards before leaving the contest with a foot injury, while Newton threw for 300 for Carolina and Winston throwing for 249 yards (both men threw a pair of TD passes, both were sacked four times and Newton threw four interceptions). Carolina was 3 of 8 on third down, 0 for 1 on fourth down and held on to the ball for 30:06. As for Tampa Bay? They kept the pigskin for 29:54 and went 6 for 13 on third down tries at Raymond James Stadium.

New Orleans hosted Winston and the Bucs in their week one meetings and the Saints came out on the short end of a 48-40 loss to Tampa Bay in the season opener in the Big Easy. Although they trailed 31-24 at the half, the Buccaneers managed to take control of things in the second half, outscoring the Saints 17-16 in the final 30 minutes of action. Tampa Bay outrushed New Orleans 112-43, while Drew Brees threw for 439 yards with three passing TDs and Alvin Kamara chipping in with a pair of rushing TDs. For Tampa Bay, Ryan Fitzpatrick, taking over for the suspended Jameis Winston, threw for 417 yards and four TDs in the win at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Tampa Bay went 8 of 13 on third down and kept the ball for 32:09, while the Saints went 4 of 9 and 1 of 1 on third and fourth downs, keeping the ball for 27:51.

New Orleans was favored by 9 1/2 in the week one meeting in the Big Easy and Tampa Bay came away with the victory but both clubs did cover the 49 1/2 over/under with 88 total points. The odds makers like the Saints as 8 1/2 point favorites in the Sunshine State and the over/under’s 57 1/2. New Orleans could very well win the NFC South if they beat Tampa Bay, while the Bucs want to prove that the first win in the Big Easy was not a fluke. While Tampa Bay won’t cover the 8 1/2, they somehow sweep the Saints and take the win at home at Raymond James Stadium.

New York Giants (4-8) at Washington (6-6), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 712. It’s an NFC East rematch as Eli Manning and the New York Giants travel to Landover to face off against the Washington Redskins and Mark Sanchez at Fed Ex Field.

The Giants needed overtime in the Meadowlands to take a 30-27 win over the Chicago Bears at Met Life Stadium last Sunday. The Giants trailed 14-10 at the half before rallying in the third quarter to take a 24-14 lead with them to the end of the third quarter. Chicago would storm back in the final 15 minutes of action on the road in upstate New Jersey after the Giants took a 10-point lead late in the fourth when Bears K Chris Parkey kicked a 21-yard field with 73 seconds left. Chicago then got the onside kick and then marched their way downfield, tying the contest as time expired when rookie WR Anthony Miller caught a 1-yard TD pass from RB Tark Cohen to even things at 27-27. New York would win the toss in the overtime and got the ball first, using an 8-play, 49-yard drive that ended when Giants K Aldrick Rosas booted on a 44-yard field goal with 5:57 left in the extra period. Since the Giants kicked a field goal, that did not end the game and allowed Chicago to get the ball back and they did, starting their drive at their 25-yard line and getting as close as their 40-yard before Chris Daniel’s pass attempt to WR Taylor Gabriel was incomplete, ending the game and giving Big Blue the win. The Giants outrushed Da Bears 141-118 and Sequan Barkley led all rushers with 125 yards, while Manning threw for 170 yards and a TD to Odell Beckham Jr., who also threw a TD pass to WR Sterling Shepherd. Daniel threw for 285 yards and a TD in the overtime loss for Da Bears (Daniel was sacked five times and picked off twice, while Manning threw an interception with three sacks). The Giants were 6 of 17 on third down (they were 2 for 2 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 33:13, while Da Bears kept the pigskin for 33:58, going 2 for 15 on third down and 4 of 5 on fourth down.

Washington trailed the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles 14-13 at the half at Lincoln Financial Field, then watched the Eagles score 14 fourth-quarter points unchallenged to fall 28-12 in their NFC East meeting last Monday night in the City of Brotherly Love. Washington took a 10-7 lead with 9:23 left before the half when RB Adrian Peterson scored from 90 yards out before the Eagles took the lead back for good when RB Darren Sproles scored from 14 yards away with 1:46 left before the intermission. Washington would make it a one-point contest with 15 seconds left when K Dustin Hopkins booted a 47-yard field goal before the break. That would be the last that the Redskins would see of the scoreboard in the second half as the Eagles would score their 14 second half points, using a 4-yard TD pass from Carson Wentz to Josh Matthews and a pair of Jake Elliot field goals to seal the fate of the Redskins. Philadelphia outrushed their NFC East rivals 130-104, with Peterson leading the way with 98 yards, while Sanchez threw for 100 yards with a pair of sacks and an interception after taking over for Colt McCoy, who broke his leg early in the contest. Wentz threw for 306 yards and two TDs (including one to newly accquired RB Golden Tate) and threw an interception without being sacked. Washington was 2 for 10 on third down conversions and held on to tha ball for 20:41, while the Eagles were 7 of 13 on third down (0 for 1 on fourth down) and ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 39:19.

The Redskins and Giants met in week 8 and Washington held off the New York Giants 20-13 at Met Life Stadium. Washington led 7-3 at the half in upstate New Jersey, then floored the gas as RB Adrian Peterson scored his second TD of the day, scoring from 64 yards away to take a 20-6 lead with 3:06 left in the contest. The Giants would pull themselves to within 7 with 17 seconds left when Manning and TE Evan Engram connected on a 2-yard TD toss. Washington would recover the onside kick and run the clock out to take the win, giving Big Blue their fifth loss in a row. Peterson led all rushers with 149 yards in the NFC East contest as Washington outrushed the Giants 182-37, sacking Manning (316 yards, two interceptions) seven times, while Alex Smtih threw for 178 yards with the TD toss to Peterson without a sack or interception. Washington was 6 of 15 on third down and held the ball for 33:38, while the Giants held the ball for 26:22, going 2 of 14 on third down, 3 of 4 on fourth down tries.

In the week 8 meeting in the Meadowlands, Washington was favored by 1 and they covered, winning by 7 but neither team reached the 42 over/under, scoring 33 points. Vegas likes Washington again, this time as 1 1/2 point favorites in Landover and the over/under this time around is 42 1/2. Both clubs are trying to keep pace with Dallas in the NFC East and for the loser, their season and playoffs are pretty much over. For the winner, they’re alive for at least another week. HAIL TO THE REDSKINS! Washington pulls the sweep in Landover and covers the 1 1/2.

Cincinnati (5-7) at Los Angeles Chargers (9-3), 4:05 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 713. A pair of AFC rivals meet in Los Angeles as Cincinnati, looking to keep their slim playoff hopes alive, travel to Stub Hub Centre to face off against Philip Rivers and the Chargers.

Cincinnati watched Denver take a 7-3 lead with them to the intermission and saw the Broncos came away with the 24-10 road win last Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium. Denver went on to outscore the struggling Bengals 17-7 in the last 30 minutes of action, outrushing Cincinnati 218-111 in the road win and Denver rookie RB Phillip Lindsay led all rushers with 157 yards and a pair of TDs, while the Bengals were paced by Joe Mixon’s 82 yards on the ground and Denver’s Case Keenum threw for 151 yards and a TD, while Cincinati backup QB Jeff Driskel, who took over for Andy Dalton (thumb) threw for 236 yards with a TD, an interception and four sacks (Keenum was sacked twice but did not throw an interception). Both clubs went 5 for 13 on third down and Cincinnati actually ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 31:20 to Denver’s 28:40.

Los Angeles erased a 23-7 halftime defict at Pittsburgh as the Chargers and Philip Rivers would rally in the final seconds to leave Heinz Field with the 33-30 win Sunday night on a 29-yard field goal by K Michael Badgley as time expired. The Steelers let that lead get away from them as the Chargers would chip away at it in the second, when Rivers and WR Keenan Allen connected on a 10-yard TD toss with 1:43 in the third. Rivers and TE Antonio Gates would then connect on the two-point try to narrow the Steeler lead to 23-15. Pittsburgh’s special teams would fail them as CB Desmond King returned a punt 73 yards to open the scoring in the final quarter and the Chargers would even things up when Rivers and Allen connected on a second two-point conversion.

The Bolts then took the lead with 8:09 left in the contest when rookie RB Justin Jackson scored from 18 yards out. Pittsburgh would re-tie the contest, using an 12-play, 78-yard drive that took 3:59 when Ben Roethlisberger and rookie WR Jaylen Samuels hooked up on a 10-yard TD pass with 4:10 left in the contest. Los Angeles got the ball back on the kickoff and would use all of the 4:10 that was left, engineering an 11-play, 64-yard drive, burning all of the clock, aided by a pair of offside penalties on Pittsburgh with Badgley booting the game winner as the clock struck :00. Pittsburgh was outrushed by the Chargers 85-65 with Jackson leading all rushers with 63 yards, while James Conner tallied 60 for the Steelers. Roethlisberger threw for 281 yards for the Steelers, while Rivers tallied 299 yards, with both men throwing a pair of TDs (Rivers was sacked twice, Roethlisberger sacked once and threw an interception). Pittsburgh in the Sunday night affair in the Steel City went 3 of 10 on third down (they were 1 for 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 28:48, while the Chargers were 6 for 11 on third down tries and kept the ball for 31:12, including the final 4:10 of the contest.

While the Chargers lead the series 19-14 and the Bolts have outscored Cincinnati 788-722 (which includes contests that were played at Riverfront Stadium and Qualcomm Stadium), Cincinnati has won the last four meetings, including a 24-19 win along the shores of the Ohio River in 2015; the Chargers’ last win in the series came in 2009 at Qualcomm by a final of 27-24. The Chargers are favored by 14 and the over/under’s 47 1/2. If nothing else, this one will be somewhat entertaining to watch. The Bengals are hanging on for dear life in the playoff hunt, while the Chargers are knocking at the door. Los Angeles will bang, bang, bang on the door, sugar (apologies to the B52s!) and take this one at Stub Hub but expect the Bengals to make this one closer than 14.

Denver (6-6) at San Francisco (2-10), 4:05 p.m. on CBS. Denver makes their way to northern California for an early afternoon (Pacific time) contest with the struggling San Francisco 49ers at Levis’ Stadium.

Afte a scoreless first quarter in Cincinnati, the Broncos took a 7-3 lead against the Bengals with them to the intermission and came away with the 24-10 road win last Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium. The Broncos went on to outscore the struggling Bengals 17-7 in the last 30 minutes of action, outrushing Cincinnati 218-111 in the road win. Denver rookie RB Phillip Lindsay led all rushers with 157 yards and a pair of TDs, while the Bengals were paced by Joe Mixon’s 82 yards on the ground and Denver’s Case Keenum threw for 151 yards and a TD, while Cincinati backup QB Jeff Driskel, who took over for Andy Dalton (thumb) threw for 236 yards with a TD, an interception and four sacks (Keenum was sacked twice but did not throw an interception). Both clubs went 5 for 13 on third down and Cincinnati actually ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 31:20 to Denver’s 28:40.

San Francisco saw their slim playoff hopes die in Seattle as the Seahawks took the 49ers 43-16 at Century Link Field in the Pacific Northwest. Seattle led 20-6 at the intermission, then proceeded to outscore the 49ers 23-13 in the last 30 minutes of action in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks and never looked back. Seattle outrushed San Francisco 168-66 and Nate Mullins threw for 414 yards and a pair of TDs to WR Dante Pettis but was sacked three times and picked off twice, while Russell Wilson threw for 185 yards with four TDs and no interception (Wilson was sacked three times). San Francisco went 7 of 16 on third down (they were 1 for 2 on fourth down) and the 49ers actually ruled the clock as they held on to the ball for 32:30, while the Seahawks were 4 for 9 on third down, keeping the ball for 27:30.

The Broncos hold a slim lead in the series 7-6 and have outscored the 49ers 322-299. Their last meeting took place in 2014 in the Mile High City and the Broncos were 42-17 victors, while San Francisco’s last win came in London by a final of 24-16 in 2010. Denver’s favored by 6 and the over/under’s 43 1/2. Denver’s looking to keep their playoff hopes alive, while the 49ers look to somehow derail the Broncos’ train. That train’s staying on the tracks. Broncos cover the 6 in Napa Valley and takes the win on the road.

Detroit (4-8) at Arizona (3-9), 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 715. A pair of struggling teams meet in the desert as Arizona hosts the Detroit Lions at State Farm Stadium in Glendale.

Detroit watched the Los Angeles Rams clinch their second NFC West title last Sunday in the Motor City, beating the Lions 30-16 at Ford Field. The Lions trailed throughout the contest, trailing 13-3 at to the intermission, then watched the Rams run away from them in the second half, outcoring them 17-13 in the last 30 minutes of action. Detroit was outrushed by Los Angeles 149-102 and Rams RB Todd Gurley ran for 132 yards and a pair of TDs to seal the win. Jared Goff threw for 207 yards for Los Angeles, while Matthew Stafford threw for 245 for Detroit (Stafford was sacked four times, Goff was sacked once and each threw a TD pass and an interception). The Rams were 5 for 11 on third down conversions and kept the ball for 28:16, while the Lions kept the ball for 31:44, going 2 for 17 on third down tries.

Arizona escaped Green Bay with a 20-17 win at Lambeau Field in a contest that cost Mike McCarthy his job as head coach (he was replaced by offensive co-ordinator Joe Philbin in the interim). The Desert Angry Birds trailed in the land of beer, cheese and Bratwurst led 10-7 at the intermission before Arizona stormed back in the second half and took the lead with 1:41 left in regulation when Zavier Gonzalez booted a 44-yard field goal to take the 20-17 lead. Green Bay made its way downfield after they got the ball back on the ensuing kickoff and would get as far as Arizona’s 31-yard line with three seconds left in hopes of tying the contest and sending it to overtime but Mason Crosby’s 49-yard try sailed wide to the right, sending Packer fans home unhappy. The Desert Angry Birds outrushed the Packers 182-98 and Rodgers threw for 233 yards and a TD pass to Davante Adams, while Josh Rosen threw for 149 yards for Arizona (Rosen was sacked twice, Rodgers was sacked once and neither man had an interception). Green Bay was a somewhat dismal 3 of 14 on third down but was perfect on fourth down, going 2 of 2 and kept the ball for 32:26, while Arizona held on to the pigskin for 27:34, while going 5 of 13 on third down.

Including those contests that were played in Chicago and St. Louis, when the Desert Angry Birds called those cities home and the Lions were in Portsmouth as the Spartans and played contests in Tiger Stadium and the Silverdome, the Lions lead the series 32-28-5 and have outscored the Cardinals 1,182-1,085. Their last meeting? Last year in the Motor City, coming away 35-23 to break a 7-game losing streak against Arizona, while Arizona’s last win in the series came in 2015 in the Motor City by a final of 42-17.

The two clubs opened the 2017 campaign at Ford Field and the Lions trailed 10-9 at the half before they would roar back in the final 30 minutes of play, outscoring the Desert Angry Birds 26-13, holding off a late Arizona rally in the process. Stafford (292 yards) threw three TD passes in the second half, connecting with WR Kenny Golladay on two of those tosses, winding up with four on the afternoon, while Carson Palmer threw for 269 yards with three interceptions (Stafford threw an interception, Palmer and Stafford were sacked once). Detroit, who outrushed Arizona 82-45, went 8 for 16 on third down (they were 0 for 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 33:20. As for Arizona? They kept the ball for 26:40 and went 6 for 15 on third down, 1 for 1 on fourth down.

In the season opener, the Lions’ 12-point win allowed them to cover the 2-point spread and the 58 points total allowed both clubs to cover the 48 over/under. Detroit’s favored by 2 1/2 in the desert and the over/under’s 40 1/2. Feel free to take a pass on this one and get that Christmas shopping done or watch that “Grumpy Cat Movie.” Granted, that kitty’s grumpy but he’s really funny! Arizona covers the 2 1/2 and the Desert Angry Birds take the win in Glendale.

Philadelphia (6-6) at Dallas (7-5), 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 716. They meet again. Eagles vs. Cowboys, Round 2. The defending Super Bowl champs travel to the Lone Star State to take on Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington in an NFC East rematch at AT&T Stadium.

The defending Super Bowl champions led Washington 14-13 at the half at Lincoln Financial Field, then scored 14 fourth-quarter points unchallenged to take down the Redskins 28-12 in their NFC East meeting last Monday night in the City of Brotherly Love. Washington took a 10-7 lead with 9:23 left before the half when RB Adrian Peterson scored from 90 yards out before the Eagles took the lead back for good when RB Darren Sproles scored from 14 yards away with 1:46 left before the intermission. Washington would make it a one-point contest with 15 seconds left when K Dustin Hopkins booted a 47-yard field goal before the break. That would be the last that the Redskins would see of the scoreboard in the second half as the Eagles would score their 14 second half points, using a 4-yard TD pass from Carson Wentz to Josh Matthews and a pair of Jake Elliot field goals to seal the fate of the Redskins. Philadelphia outrushed their NFC East rivals 130-104, with Peterson leading the way with 98 yards, while Sanchez threw for 100 yards with a pair of sacks and an interception after taking over for Colt McCoy, who broke his leg early in the contest. Wentz threw for 306 yards and two TDs (including one to newly accquired RB Golden Tate) and threw an interception without being sacked. Washington was 2 for 10 on third down conversions and held on to tha ball for 20:41, while the Eagles were 7 of 13 on third down (0 for 1 on fourth down) and ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 39:19.

Prescott and the Cowboys took a 13-0 lead at the half against Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints, then held off New Orleans in the second half to come away 13-10 winners at AT&T Stadium. Dallas took the lead thanks to a pair of field goals from Brett Maher and a passing TD by Ezekiel Elliot, then held off the Saints after New Orleands broke the Cowboys’ bid for a shutout as Will Lutz connected on a 33-yard field Goal with 10 minutes left in the third, then got to within 7 with 68 seconds left in the third when WR Keith Kirkwood and Brees connected on a 38-yard TD toss. Dallas would then hold off a Saints’ rally in the final minutes of the fourth quarter that would have given New Orleans the lead when Brees was picked off by CB Jourdan Lewis to end the threat. Dallas outrushed New Orleans 100-65 and Brees threw for 127 yards with a TD and a pair of sacks, while Prescott threw for 248 yards with the TD toss to Elliot and was sacked seven times but had no interceptions. Dallas was 7 for 14 on third down tries and held on to the ball for 36:53, while the Saints held on to the ball for 23:07, going 3 for 11 on third down, 0 for 1 on fourth down.

The Cowboys led the defending Super Bowl champions 13-3 at the half in Philadelphia in the week 10 meeting, then watched the Eagles tie the contest with 7:27 left in regulation when Zach Ertz caught a 2-yard TD pass from Carson Wentz, rallied to reclaim the thanks to a 1-yard run by RB Ezekiel Elliott with 3:19 left, then held off a late Philly rally to come away from Lincoln Financial Field 27-20 winners Sunday night. The Eagles managed to tie the contest at 13-13 late in the third quarter when Ertz and Wentz connected on a 15-yard toss before Dallas took the lead back when Elliott and Dak Prescott connected on a 7-yard TD toss early in the final quarter of play. After the two teams exchanged TDs later in the period and Dallas re-claimed the lead for a second time, Philadelphia marched their way down the field and got as close as Dallas’ 32-yard line when Philadelphia used several laterals to get the ball into the end zone to no avail.

Elliott led all rushers with 151 yards on the ground with the rushing TD as the Cowboys outrushed Philadelphia 171-71 and  Prescott threw for 270 yards and a TD with four sacks, while Wentz threw for 360 yards and the two Ertz catches for scores (Wentz was sacked twice and threw an interception). Dallas was 8 for 16 on third down (they were 1 for 1 on fourth down) and held the ball for 33:22, while the Eagles kept the pigskin for 26:38, going 4 for 10 on third down, 0 for 2 on fourth down.

In the week 10 contest in the City of Brotherly Love, the Eagles were favored by 6 and Dallas covered, coming away with the 7-point win. Both clubs covered the 43 1/2 over/under, tallying 47 in the Sunday night contest at Lincoln Financial Field. In the rematch in the Lone Star State, the Cowboys are favored by 4 and the over/under’s 43. Dallas is looking to prove that the first win was not a fluke, while the Eagles want revenge and keep their playoff hopes alive. Hope stays alive this SUnday. Eagles get revenge and the win, covering the 4 on the road.

Pittsburgh (7-4-1) at Oakland (2-10), 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 717. Pittsburgh, in first place in the AFC North, travels to Oakland to face off against the struggling Raiders in the Black Hole (aka the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum) in a late Sunday afternoon contest on the West Coast. Both teams took losses at home in last week’s action.

The Steelers let a 23-7 lead at the half against the Los Angeles Chargers get away from them as Philip Rivers and the Chargers would rally in the final seconds to leave Heinz Field with the 33-30 win Sunday night on a 29-yard field goal by K Michael Badgley as time expired. The Steelers let that lead get away from them as the Chargers would chip away at it in the second, when Rivers and WR Keenan Allen connected on a 10-yard TD toss with 1:43 in the third. Rivers and TE Antonio Gates would then connect on the two-point try to narrow the Steeler lead to 23-15. Pittsburgh’s special teams would fail them as CB Desmond King returned a punt 73 yards to open the scoring in the final quarter and the Chargers would even things up when Rivers and Allen connected on a second two-point conversion.

Los Angeles then took the lead with 8:09 left in the contest when rookie RB Justin Jackson scored from 18 yards out. Pittsburgh would re-tie the contest, using an 12-play, 78-yard drive that took 3:59 when Ben Roethlisberger and rookie WR Jaylen Samuels hooked up on a 10-yard TD pass with 4:10 left in the contest. Los Angeles would use all of the 4:10 that was left, engineering an 11-play, 64-yard drive, burning all of the clock, aided by a pair of offside penalties on Pittsburgh with Badgley booting the game winner as the clock struck :00. Pittsburgh was outrushed by the Chargers 85-65 with Jackson leading all rushers with 63 yards, while James Conner tallied 60 for the Steelers. Roethlisberger threw for 281 yards for the Steelers, while Rivers tallied 299 yards, with both men throwing a pair of TDs (Rivers was sacked twice, Roethlisberger sacked once and threw an interception). Pittsburgh in the Sunday night affair in the Steel City went 3 of 10 on third down (they were 1 for 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 28:48, while the Chargers were 6 for 11 on third down tries and kept the ball for 31:12, including the final 4:10 of the contest.

Oakland saw the Kansas City Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes bounce back from their 4-point loss against the Los Angeles Rams as their AFC West/AFL rivals put an end to Oakland’s dwindling playoff hopes last Sunday, taking down the Raiders 40-33 at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. Kansas City led 19-7, then pulled away after the Silver and Black made it a 9-point contest early in the third quarter. Kansas City outrushed their AFC West rival 174-171 and Mahomes threw for 295 yards with four TDs (connecting with TE Travis Kelce on two of them) and no sacks or interceptions, while Oakland’s Derek Carr threw for 285 yards with three TDs and three sacks. Kansas City was 6 of 13 on third down (Andy Reid’s Chiefs were successful on fourth down, going 1 of 1) and kept the ball for 29:14, while the Raiders ruled the clock and kept the ball for 30:46, going 9 for 12 on third down conversions.

Including games played in Los Angeles and at Three Rivers Stadium, the Raiders lead the series 12-10 and the Silver and Black have been outscored by the Steelers 475-465. Pittsburgh won the last meeting in the series in 2015, coming away with the 38-35 win at Heinz Field, while Oakland’s last win in the series came on the West Coast in 2013 by a final of 21-18. Pittsburgh’s favored by 11 and the over/under’s 51 1/2. Granted, the Raiders are bad… they’re not 11 points bad. Oakland may be out of the post-season but they would like nothing more than to ruin Pittsburgh’s chances to play some extra football come January. Pittsburgh may not cover the 11 but they take the win in Oakland.

Los Angeles Rams (11-1) at Chicago (8-4). 8:20 p.m. on NBC. A pair of first-place teams meet in the Windy City as the Los Angeles Rams travel to Soldier Field for a Sunday night contest with the Chicago Bears.

The Rams clinched their second NFC West title last Sunday in the Motor City, taming the Detroit Lions 30-16 at Ford Field. Los Angeles led from start to finish, taking a 13-3 lead with them to the intermission, then running away from the Lions in the second half, outcoring them 17-13 in the last 30 minutes of action. The Rams outrushed Detroit 149-102 and Todd Gurley ran for 132 yards and a pair of TDs to seal the win. Jared Goff threw for 207 yards for Los Angeles, while Matthew Stafford threw for 245 for Detroit (Stafford was sacked four times, Goff was sacked once and each threw a TD pass and an interception). The Rams were 5 for 11 on third down conversions and kept the ball for 28:16, while the Lions kept the ball for 31:44, going 2 for 17 on third down tries.

Da Bears rallied late in the final quarter against Eli Manning and the Giants, only to come away with a 30-27 overtime loss at Met Life Stadium last Sunday. Chicago would storm back in the final 15 minutes of action on the road in upstate New Jersey after the Giants took a 10-point lead late in the fourth when Bears K Chris Parkey kicked a 21-yard field with 73 seconds left. Da Bears then got the onside kick and then marched their way downfield, tying the contest as time expired when rookie WR Anthony Miller caught a 1-yard TD pass from RB Tark Cohen to even things at 27-27. New York would win the toss in the overtime and got the ball first, using an 8-play, 49-yard drive that ended when Giants K Aldrick Rosas booted on a 44-yard field goal with 5:57 left in the extra period. Since the Giants kicked a field goal, that did not end the game and allowed Chicago to get the ball back and they did, starting their drive at their 25-yard line and getting as close as their 40-yard before Chris Daniel’s pass attempt to WR Taylor Gabriel was incomplete, ending the game and giving Big Blue the win. The Giants outrushed Da Bears 141-118 and Sequan Barkley led all rushers with 125 yards, while Manning threw for 170 yards and a TD to Odell Beckham Jr., who also threw a TD pass to WR Sterling Shepherd. Daniel threw for 285 yards and a TD in the overtime loss for Da Bears (Daniel was sacked five times and picked off twice, while Manning threw an interception with three sacks). The Giants were 6 of 17 on third down (they were 2 for 2 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 33:13, while Da Bears kept the pigskin for 33:58, going 2 for 15 on third down and 4 of 5 on fourth down.

Da Bears lead da series 52-35-3 (which includes games that took place in Cleveland, St. Louis, Anaheim and Wrigley Field) and have outscored Los Angeles 2,101-1,823. Both teams took their last wins in the series in St. Louis; Chicago came away with the 37-13 win in 2015, while the Rams were 42-21 winners in 2013.

Sunday night has not been kind to either club; Da Bears are 16-22, while the Rams are 10-12. However, there’s a lot on the line as far as playoffs and seedings go, so this one’s “DRILL WORHTY!” (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 58 last June and dates a 43-year old ex-Marine, who’s now a football coach at the high school in your town. She’s also the one that ate an entire Oreo cheesecake, two bags of Cool Ranch Doritos, two bacon cheeseburgers with blue cheese and chugged two 2-liter Cokes at your Super Bowl party last year and didn’t gain a pound. You look at her and say to yourself, “what the hell?”) The Rams are favored by 3 in the Windy City and the over/under’s 52 1/2. There’s a good chance these two teams could very well meet again in the post-season. Da Bears pull off the upset and takes the win in the Windy City, covering the 3.

Minnesota (6-5-1) at Seattle (7-5), 8:15 p.m. Monday on ESPN. Week 14 concludes in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks as a pair of playoff contenders square off at Century Link Field. Minnesota makes their way to the Pacific Northwest to face off against Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks.

Minnesota came to Foxboro to face off against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots and it was the Pats coming away 24-10 winners at Gillette Stadium. The Purple Gang trailed 10-7 at the half, then were held to a third quarter field goal from Dan Bailey as the home team took the win. New England outrushed Minnesota 160-95 (Minnesota’s Dalvin Cook led all rushers with 84 yards), with James Delvin having a pair of rushing TDs, while Brady threw for 311 yards and a TD with an interception, while Kirk Cousins threw for 201 yards with a TD to WR Adam Thielen (Cousins was sacked twice and threw a pair of interceptions). Brady and New England was 7 of 14 on third down conversions in Foxboro (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and held on to the ball for 33:21, while the Vikings held on to the ball for 26:39, going 3 of 12 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth down.

Seattle put an end to San Francisco’s playoff hopes die in Seattle as the Seahawks took the 49ers 43-16 at Century Link Field in the Pacific Northwest. The Seahawks led their NFC West foes 20-6 at the intermission, then proceeded to outscore the 49ers 23-13 in the last 30 minutes of action in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks and never looked back. Seattle outrushed San Francisco 168-66 and Nate Mullins threw for 414 yards and a pair of TDs to WR Dante Pettis but was sacked three times and picked off twice, while Wilson threw for 185 yards with four TDs and no interception (Wilson was sacked three times). San Francisco went 7 of 16 on third down (they were 1 for 2 on fourth down) and the 49ers actually ruled the clock as they held on to the ball for 32:30, while the Seahawks were 4 for 9 on third down, keeping the ball for 27:30.

Seattle lead the series 9-5 (which includes games that were played in Bloomington, the Metrodome and the Kingdome), the Seahawks have outscored Minnesota 374-324 and they have won the last three regular season contests, including taking a 38-7 win in the Twin Cities in 2015, while the Vikings’ last win came in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks in 2009 by a final of 35-9.

Both teams have done reasonably well on Monday night; the Vikings are 29-31 (the Purple Gang won their two contests in last year’s play), while the Seahawks are 23-9, losing to Atlanta in their only MNF contest last year. Seattle’s favored by 3 1/2 in the Pacific Northwest and the over/under’s 45. Both of those numbers make a ton of sense and both teams are playoff contenders. Minnesota wants to put their day in New England behind them, while the Seahawks would love nothing more than to keep things going. You might want to tape “Bull” this week. Seattle covers the 3 1/2 in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks and takes the win at home.