Archives for posts with tag: Lombardi Trophy

 

 

It’s time to get ‘Back to Football’ and NFL Network remains the go-to destination to do so, with seven live games and re-airs of every Week 1 preseason game.

NFL Network’s Week 1 preseason live schedule begins tonight when Carolina hosts Houston at 7:30 p.m. Editions of NFL Total Access air at 7 p.m., during halftime of Texans-Panthers and postgame, with host Dan Hellie, David Carr and Heath Evans.

On Thursday, August 10, NFL Network’s Week 1 preseason live schedule continues with the Denver Broncos traveling to face the Chicago Bears at 8 p.m. Editions of NFL Total Access air at 7 p.m., during halftime of Broncos-Bears and postgame, with Hellie, Reggie Wayne and Willie McGinest.

On Friday, August 11, NFL Network provides a doubleheader of live preseason games, starting at 7 p.m. with the New York Giants hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers. At 10 p.m., the Kansas City Chiefs host the San Francisco 49ers (joined live in progress). Editions of NFL Total Access on air at 6:30 p.m. during halftime of Steelers-Giants and 49ers-Chiefs and following the conclusion of 49ers-Chiefs with Wayne, Kurt Warner and Cole Wright.

NFL Network’s Week 1 live schedule continues Saturday, August 12 when Dallas travels to face the Los Angeles Rams at 9 p.m. Editions of NFL Total Access air at 7:30 p.m., during halftime of Cowboys-Rams and postgame with Wright, Evans, Warner and Terrell Davis.

NFL Network’s Week 1 live schedule concludes Sunday, August 13 with two games, starting at 1:30 p.m. with Indianapolis hosting Detroit. At 8 p.m., NFL Network carries the Los Angeles Chargers hosting Seattle live in the Chargers’ first game back in Los Angeles. Editions of NFL Total Access air at 1 p.m., during halftime of Lions-Colts and postgame, at 7:30 p.m., during halftime of Seahawks-Chargers and postgame, with Hellie, Wright, Evans and Davis

Additionally, NFL Network provides complete game re-airs of every Week 1 preseason game.

All NFL Network programming – including 16 LIVE preseason games and re-airs of all 64 preseason games – can also be streamed on the NFL Mobile from Verizon app (NFL.com/mobile) and via Watch NFL Network on tablet (NFL Mobile and Watch NFL Network apps), PC (NFL.com/watch), Xbox One and Xbox 360 (NFL on Xbox app) and other connected TV devices (NFL app on Apple TV, Playstation 4, Android TV and Amazon Fire TV). Access through Watch NFL Network is available for NFL Network subscribers of participating TV providers.

NFL Game Pass provides fans in the United States with another opportunity to watch live out-of-market preseason games, as well as other exclusive content, for $99.99 for the 2017 season. For complete information regarding NFL Game Pass, visit  http://www.NFL.com/GamePass.

***Please note that all live games on NFL Network are subject to local blackouts***

Below is NFL Network’s Week 1 broadcast schedule.

NFL NETWORK 2017 WEEK 1 PRESEASON GAMES SCHEDULE

(ALL TIMES EASTERN AND ALL GAMES IN HIGH DEFINITION)

Wednesday, August 9
Houston vs. Carolina, 7:30 p.m. (LIVE)
Arizona vs. Dallas, 11 p.m.
Houston vs. Carolina, 2 a.m.
Arizona vs. Dallas, 4:30 p.m.

Thursday, August 10
Houston vs. Carolina, 10 a.m.
Arizona vs. Dallas, 1 p.m.
Houston vs. Carolina, 4 p.m.
Denver vs. Chicago, 8 p.m. (LIVE)
Jacksonville vs. New England, Midnight
Minnesota vs. Buffalo, 4 a.m.

Friday, August 11
New Orleans vs. Cleveland, 10 a.m.
Jacksonville vs. New England, 1 p.m.
Philadelphia vs. Green Bay, 4 p.m.
Pittsburgh vs. New York Giants, 7 p.m. (LIVE)
San Francisco vs. Kansas City, 10 p.m. (LIVE)
Tampa Bay vs. Cincinnati, 1 a.m.
Pittsburgh vs. New York Giants, 4 a.m.

Saturday, August 12
Washington vs. Baltimore, 7 a.m.
ATLANTA vs. Miami, 9:30 a.m.
Denver vs. Chicago, Noon
San Francisco vs. Kansas City, 2:30 p.m.
Pittsburgh vs. New York Giants, 5 p.m.
Dallas vs. Los Angeles Rams, 9 p.m. (LIVE)
Oakland vs. Arizona, 1 a.m.
Philadelphia vs. Green Bay, 4 a.m.

Sunday, August 13
Tennessee vs. New York Jets, 7 a.m.
Jacksonville vs. New England, 10 a.m.
Detroit vs. Indianapolis, 1:30 p.m. (LIVE)
Dallas vs. Los Angeles Rams, 5 p.m.
Seattle vs. Los Angeles Chargers, 8 p.m. (LIVE)
San Francisco vs. Kansas City, 11:30 p.m.
Dallas vs. Los Angeles Rams, 2 a.m.
ATLANTA vs. Miami, 4:30 p.m.

Monday, August 14
Washington vs. Baltimore, 10 a.m.
New Orleans vs. Cleveland, 1 p.m.
Philadelphia vs. Green Bay, 4 p.m.
Pittsburgh vs. New York Giants, 8 p.m.
Dallas vs. Los Angeles Rams, Midnight
San Francisco vs. Kansas City, 4 a.m.

Tuesday, August 15
Tennessee vs. New York Jets, 10 a.m..
Tampa Bay vs. Cincinnati, 1 p.m.
Jacksonville vs. New England, 4 p.m.
Denver vs. Chicago, 8 p.m.
Oakland vs. Arizona, Midnight
Detroit vs. Indianapolis, 4 a.m.

Wednesday, August 16
Minnesota vs. Buffalo, 10 a.m.
ATLANTA vs. Miami, 1 p.m.
Houston vs. Carolina, 4 p.m.
Dallas vs. Los Angeles Rams, 8 p.m.
Seattle vs. Los Angeles Chargers, Midnight
New Orleans vs. Cleveland, 4 a.m.

Thursday, August 17
Dallas vs. Los Angeles Rams, 10 a.m.
Denver vs. Chicago, 1 p.m.
Pittsburgh vs. New York Giants, 4 p.m.

(Please note that all live games on NFL Network are subject to local blackouts)

The following broadcast teams will be calling each Week 1 matchup on NFL Network:

Game  – Play-by-Play, Analyst (Sideline)
Texans vs. Panthers – Mick Mixon, Mike Rucker (Kevin Donnalley)
Vikings vs. Bills – Rob Stone, Steve Tasker (Mike Catalana)
Falcons vs. Dolphins – Dick Stockton, Bob Griese, Nat Moore (Kim Bokamper)
Redskins vs. Ravens – Gerry Sandusky, Brian Billick (Evan Washburn)
Jaguars vs. Patriots – Dan Roche, Christian Fauria (Matt Chatham & Steve Burton)
Broncos vs. Bears – Sam Rosen, Jim Miller (Lou Canellis)
Saints vs. Browns – Mike Patrick, Solomon Wilcots (Andy Baskin)
Eagles vs. Packers – Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon (Lance Allen)
Steelers vs. Giants Bob Papa Carl Banks Howard Cross & Bruce Beck
Buccaneers vs. Bengals Brad Johansen Anthony Munoz Mike Valpredo
49ers vs. Chiefs Carter Blackburn Trent Green BJ Kissel
Titans vs. Jets Ian Eagle Greg Buttle Otis Livingston
Cowboys vs. Rams Andrew Siciliano Marshall Faulk Jill Arrington & Dani Klupenger
Raiders vs. Cardinals Dave Pasch Ron Wolfley Paul Gerke
Lions vs. Colts Don Fischer Rick Venturi Caroline Cann
Seahawks vs. Chargers  Spero Dedes Dan Fouts Alex Flanagan

ABOUT NFL MEDIA

NFL Media is comprised of NFL Network, NFL Films, NFL.com, NFL Now, NFL Mobile from Verizon and NFL RedZone.

Seven days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, fans turn to NFL Network to receive information and insight straight from the field, team headquarters, league offices and everywhere the NFL is making news. Launched in 2003, NFL Network gives fans unprecedented year-round inside access to all NFL events, including the Super Bowl, Playoffs, regular season, preseason, Pro Bowl, Pro Football Hall of Fame induction weekend, NFL Draft, NFL Scouting Combine, Senior Bowl, league meetings, minicamps and training camps.

For fans on the go, all NFL Network programming can also be streamed live on smartphones through NFL Mobile from Verizon, as well as other digital platforms such as TuneIn.com and through Watch NFL Network on tablet (NFL Mobile, Watch NFL Network and NFL on Windows 10 apps), PC (NFL.com/watch), Xbox One and Xbox 360 (NFL on Xbox app) and other connected TV devices (NFL app on Apple TV, PlayStation 4, Android TV and Amazon Fire TV). Watch NFL Network access is available for NFL Network subscribers of participating TV providers. For more information, go to NFL.com/nflnetwork.

Back to work!

Back to sweating in the summer heat, learning playbooks that are so big they make “War and Peace” look like a comic book.

Back to rookies fighting for their first NFL jobs, free agents fighting to stay on an NFL roster, fighting with teammates on the field as things get heated, along with the weather.

Back to sleeping in dorms for the first time since they were in college.

It’s back to work for all 32 NFL teams. For New England, it’s the hunter now becoming the hunted, as the defending Super Bowl champs. For the other 31 teams, it’s their chance to replace them as the NFL’s king of the mountain, so to speak.

NFL clubs will begin their on-field preparations for Kickoff 2017 this week, starting Wednesday, July 19 as rookies for the Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, Jacksonville Jaguars and New Orleans Saints are scheduled to report.

The Arizona Cardinals, who will take on the Cowboys in the Hall of Fame Game (Thursday, August 3 on NBC at 8 p.m. Eastern), will be the first team with a full squad in camp when their rookies and veterans report on Friday, July 21. By Saturday, July 29, every NFL team will be in camp.

This year, more than half the league (21 of 32, 66 percent) will be “staying home” for training camp. Teams considered to be “staying home” hold training camp at their respective practice facility, home stadium or at a site within 10 miles of their team headquarters. In 2000, only 10 of 31 (32 percent) teams stayed close to home.

“Our entire organization is excited to be returning to hold training camp at our facility in Metairie in 2017,” Saints owner Tom Benson told the Mobile Register and WKRG-TV. “This will be a great opportunity for our passionate fans from throughout the Gulf South to be able to experience the fun, excitement and interaction of Saints training camp as our team prepares for what we expect to be a very exciting season.”

The numbers may prove that training at home is a popular league-wide trend but there are still teams employing the “old-time” philosophy of holding camp away from their facilities.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of the teams that “come together” away from home, holding camp at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania for the 52nd consecutive year.

“There’s some intrinsic value to being here, some things that you can’t measure,” says Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin on holding training camp at St. Vincent College. Tomlin told KDKA-TV, “Those are things that I think about when I think about training camp and those are the things that make me really excited about bringing a team to an environment like this.”

The NFL training camp longevity king? The Green Bay Packers, who return for their 60th consecutive summer at St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin.

Here’s a look at the number of NFL teams that stayed home for training camp since 2000:

YEAR – NFL TEAMS WITH HOME TRAINING CAMPS (PCT.)

2000 – 10 of 31 (32%)
2001 –  9 of 31 (29%)
2002 – 10 of 32 (31%)
2003 – 14 of 32 (44%)
2004 – 15 of 32 (47%)
2005 – 17 of 32 (53%)
2006 – 15 of 32 (47%)
2007 – 16 of 32 (50%)
2008 – 15 of 32 (47%)
2009 – 17 of 32 (53%)
2010 – 17 of 32 (53%)
2011 – 19 of 32 (59%)
2012 – 19 of 32 (59%)
2013 – 20 of 32 (63%)
2014 – 20 of 32 (63%)
2015 – 21 of 32 (66%)
2016 – 20 of 32 (63%)
2017 – 21 of 32 (66%)
Overall – 295 of 574 (52%)

*Teams considered to be “staying home” hold training camp at their practice facility, home stadium or at a site within 10 miles of their team headquarters.

The longest active NFL training camp tenures:

TEAM – TRAINING CAMP, CITY (YEARS)
Green Bay Packers – Saint Norbert College, De Pere, Wisconsin (60)
Minnesota Vikings – Minnesota State University, Mankato, Mankato, Minnesota (52)
Pittsburgh Steelers – Saint Vincent College, Latrobe, Pennsylvania (52)

Veterans will be looking to keep their jobs, while rookies and free agents fight for that coveted roster spot. That spot means a paycheck. It’s going to be hot. They’ll be sleeping in dorms for the first time since college, they’ll fight heat, humidity, bugs and in some cases each other.

The playbooks will be bigger than the textbooks they used in college, making “War and Peace” look like a comic book. Meetings with coaches in their positions, pre-season games that will determine their futures will take place and in the end, they’ll either be on a roster or they’ll get that knock on the door from a coach or support staff member and the dreaded words “Coach wants to see you and bring your playbook.” That usually means you’re getting cut.

Some camps will have their rookies come in first to get used to being in camp, while others will have everyone come in at one time. For some, it will be like riding a bike. For others, it’s sort of like learning to walk again. It’s not easy. Most teams will play four pre-season contests (Dallas and Arizona will play five because they are playing in the Hall of Fame Game). Some say the pre-season is too long and needs to be cut back to one or two games, like our CFL neighbors to the north.

Below is the training camp list of sites and rookie and veteran reporting dates. Check with your team for dates and if practices will be open to the public. Hydrate, stock up on that bug spray (the mosquitoes in the South have been known to carry off small children) and mind your manners and watch out for your cousin Connie. She’s been known to wipe out a Super Bowl party.

AFC
Baltimore – Under Armour Performance Center in Owings Mills, Maryland (Rookies report 7/19, Veterans report 7/26)
Buffalo – St. John Fisher College in Rochester, New York (Rookies and Veterans report 7/26)
Cincinnati – Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati (Rookies report 7/25, Veterans report 7/27)
Cleveland – Cleveland Browns Training Complex, Berea, Ohio (Rookies report 7/23, Veterans report 7/26)
Denver – University of Colorado Health Training Center in Englewood, Colorado, (Rookies report 7/23, Veterans report 7/26)
Houston – The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia (Rookies and Veterans report 7/25)
Indianapolis – Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center in Indianapolis, Indiana (Rookies report 7/24, Veterans report 7/29)
Jacksonville – Florida Blue Health & Wellness Practice Fields in Jacksonville, Florida (Rookies report 7/19, Veterans report 7/26)
Kansas City – Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, Missouri (Rookies report 7/24, Veterans report 7/27)
Los Angeles Chargers – Jack Hammett Sports Complex in Costa Mesa, California (Rookies and Veterans report 7/29)
Miami – Baptist Health Training Facility in Davie, Florida (Rookies report 7/20, Veterans report 7/26)
New England – Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts (Rookies report 7/24, Veterans report 7/26)
New York Jets – Atlantic Health Jets Training Center in Florham Park, New Jersey (Rookies and Veterans report 7/28)
Oakland – Napa Valley Marriott in Napa, California (Rookies report 7/24, Veterans report 7/28)
Pittsburgh – Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania (Rookies and Veterans report 7/27)
Tennessee – Saint Thomas Sports Park in Nashville, Tennessee (Rookies and Veterans report 7/28)

NFC
Arizona – University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona (Rookies and Veterans report 7/21)
Atlanta – Atlanta Falcons Training Facility in Flowery Branch, Georgia (Rookies and Veterans report 7/26)
Carolina – Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina (Rookies and Veterans report 7/25)
Chicago – Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Illinois (Rookies report 7/19, Veterans report 7/26)
Dallas – Marriott Residence Inn in Oxnard, California (Rookies report 7/19, Veterans report 7/22)
Detroit – Detroit Lions Training Facility in Allen Park, Michigan (Rookies report 7/24, Veterans report 7/29)
Green Bay – St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin (Rookies and Veterans report 7/26)
Los Angeles Rams – University of California at Irvine (Rookies report 7/26, Veterans report 7/28)
Minnesota – Minnesota State University at Mankato (Rookies report 7/23, Veterans report 7/26)
New Orleans – New Orleans Saints Training Facility in Metairie, Louisiana (Rookies report 7/19, Veterans report 7/26)
New York Giants – Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey (Rookies and Veterans report 7/27)
Philadelphia – NovaCare Training Complex in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Rookies report 7/23, Veterans report 7/26)
San Francisco – SAP Performance Facility in Santa Clara, California (Rookies and Veterans report 7/27)
Seattle – Virginia Mason Athletic Center in Renton, Washington (Rookies and Veterans report 7/29)
Tampa Bay – One Buccaneer Place on Tampa, Florida (Rookies report 7/25, Veterans report 7/27)
Washington – Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center in Richmond, Virginia (Rookies and Veterans report 7/26)

Note: The first official practice of training camp for each club at the site designated above is generally held the day after the veteran reporting date.

Soon it will be time to go to camp.

There’s no eating s’mores. There’s some swimming, no one’s singing “Kumba Ya.”

It’s almost time for football.

Soon, all 32 NFL teams will be on a practice field somewhere in America. One will be looking to defend their title. The other 31 teams will be looking to knock them off the top of the mountain.

The hunter is NOW the hunted.

Veterans will be looking to keep their jobs, while rookies and free agents fight for that coveted roster spot. That spot means a paycheck. It’s going to be hot. They’ll be sleeping in dorms for the first time since college, they’ll fight heat, humidity, bugs and in some cases each other.

The playbooks will be bigger than the textbooks they used in college, making “War and Peace” look like a comic book. Meetings with coaches in their positions, pre-season games that will determine their futures will take place and in the end, they’ll either be on a roster or they’ll get that knock on the door from a coach or support staff member and the dreaded words “Coach wants to see you and bring your playbook.” That usually means you’re getting cut.

Some camps will have their rookies come in first to get used to being in camp, while others will have everyone come in at one time. For some, it will be like riding a bike. For others, it’s sort of like learning to walk again. It’s not easy. Most teams will play four pre-season contests (Dallas and Arizona will play five because they are playing in the Hall of Fame Game). Some say the pre-season is too long and needs to be cut back to one or two games, like our CFL neighbours to the north.

Fans will get to see their teams up close and personal and make their own evaluations of their team. Some see their teams getting better from their 2016 finish and make the postseason, while other want to see if last year was a fluke.

Heat. Humidity. Bugs, Sweat. Fights with teammates. Come the Thursday after Labor Day when it gets underway in Foxboro as New England and Kansas City meet, if they make the cut, it’s worth it.

Below is the training camp list of sites and rookie and veteran reporting dates. Check with your team for dates and if practices will be open to the public. Hydrate and mind your manners and watch out for your cousin Connie. She’s been known to wipe out a Super Bowl party.

AFC
Baltimore – Under Armour Performance Center in Owings Mills, Maryland (Rookies report 7/19, Veterans report 7/26)
Buffalo – St. John Fisher College in Rochester, New York (Rookies and Veterans report 7/26)
Cincinnati – Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati (Rookies report 7/25, Veterans report 7/27)
Cleveland – Cleveland Browns Training Complex, Berea, Ohio (Rookies report 7/23, Veterans report 7/26)
Denver – University of Colorado Health Training Center in Englewood, Colorado, (Rookies report 7/23, Veterans report 7/26)
Houston – The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia (Rookies and Veterans report 7/25)
Indianapolis – Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center in Indianapolis, Indiana (Rookies report 7/24, Veterans report 7/29)
Jacksonville – Florida Blue Health & Wellness Practice Fields in Jacksonville, Florida (Rookies report 7/19, Veterans report 7/26)
Kansas City – Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, Missouri (Rookies report 7/24, Veterans report 7/27)
Los Angeles Chargers – Jack Hammett Sports Complex in Costa Mesa, California (Rookies and Veterans report 7/29)
Miami – Baptist Health Training Facility in Davie, Florida (Rookies report 7/20, Veterans report 7/26)
New England – Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts (Rookies report 7/24, Veterans report 7/26)
New York Jets – Atlantic Health Jets Training Center in Florham Park, New Jersey (Rookies and Veterans report 7/28)
Oakland – Napa Valley Marriott in Napa, California (Rookies report 7/24, Veterans report 7/28)
Pittsburgh – Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania (Rookies and Veterans report 7/27)
Tennessee – Saint Thomas Sports Park in Nashville, Tennessee (Rookies and Veterans report 7/28)

NFC
Arizona – University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona (Rookies and Veterans report 7/21)
Atlanta – Atlanta Falcons Training Facility in Flowery Branch, Georgia (Rookies and Veterans report 7/26)
Carolina – Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina (Rookies and Veterans report 7/25)
Chicago – Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Illinois (Rookies report 7/19, Veterans report 7/26)
Dallas – Marriott Residence Inn in Oxnard, California (Rookies report 7/19, Veterans report 7/22)
Detroit – Detroit Lions Training Facility in Allen Park, Michigan (Rookies report 7/24, Veterans report 7/29)
Green Bay – St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin (Rookies and Veterans report 7/26)
Los Angeles Rams – University of California at Irvine (Rookies report 7/26, Veterans report 7/28)
Minnesota – Minnesota State University at Mankato (Rookies report 7/23, Veterans report 7/26)
New Orleans – New Orleans Saints Training Facility in Metairie, Louisiana (Rookies report 7/19, Veterans report 7/26)
New York Giants – Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey (Rookies and Veterans report 7/27)
Philadelphia – NovaCare Training Complex in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Rookies report 7/23, Veterans report 7/26)
San Francisco – SAP Performance Facility in Santa Clara, California (Rookies and Veterans report 7/27)
Seattle – Virginia Mason Athletic Center in Renton, Washington (Rookies and Veterans report 7/29)
Tampa Bay – One Buccaneer Place on Tampa, Florida (Rookies report 7/25, Veterans report 7/27)
Washington – Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center in Richmond, Virginia (Rookies and Veterans report 7/26)

Note: The first official practice of training camp for each club at the site designated above is generally held the day after the veteran reporting date.

ATLANTA (11-5, NFC South champion, 2nd seed) vs. New England (14-2, AFC East Champion, 1st seed). Ryan vs. Brady. Peach pie vs. Clam chowder. New England vs. Atlanta. The two best teams in the National Football League meet to determine who takes home the Lombardi Trophy. The home of the Houston Texans, NRG Stadium, is the site of the last game of the 2016 campaign. Super Bowl LI takes the stage as the Lone Star State hosts the big game for the third time.

Both teams took big wins in their respective championship games in front of their home crowds. Atlanta took Green Bay and Aaron Rodgers to task January 22nd in the final game at the Georgia Dome, coming away with an impressive 44-21 win over the Packers to take the Halas Trophy and the NFC Championship. Atlanta led from start to finish in the Big Peach, leading 24-0 at the half and increased that lead to 31-0 with 13:51 left in the third before the Packers ended Atlanta’s hopes of a shutout when WR Davante Adams caught a 2-yard TD pass from Rodgers (287 yards, three TDs, interception) with 9:19 left in the period. Green Bay, who had a chance to score in the first half, missed a 41-yard field goal try by Mason Crosby and was marching down the field before Aaron Ripkowski fumbled near the goal line and Atlanta recovered, was held to 99 yards rushing, while the Falcons tallied 101 yards and a pair of rushing TDs from Tevin Coleman and Ryan. Ryan, who threw for 392 yards and four TDs without an interception, connected with Julio Jones on a pair of TD passes, the longest going for 73 yards and WRs Mohamed Sanu and RB DeVanta Freeman. Atlanta ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 33:39, while going 10 of 13 on third down in the win. Green Bay, who turned the ball over twice, went 4 of 10 on third down tries (2 of 2 on fourth down) and kept the pigskin for 26:21.

New England took the AFC title and the Lamar Hunt Trophy in Foxboro after their 36-17 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger at Gillette Stadium. Pittsburgh made it a close contest in the first 30 minutes of action and trailed 17-9 at the half before New England and Brady pulled away to take control of things in the second half. As far as the rushing game went in the Sunday evening contest, neither club breached the 100-yard barrier and barely touched the 50 yard mark in the contest (New England outrushed Pittsburgh 57-54), while Brady threw for 384 yards and three TDs. Meanwhile, for his efforts, Roethlisberger threw for 314 yards and a TD but was picked off once. In forcing a pair of turnovers for their win, the Pats were 11 of 17 on third down tries and kept the ball for 31:26, while the Steelers kept the pigskin for 28:34, going 9 of 15 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth downs.

New England leads the series 7-6 in regular season play and has won the last four contests, including taking a 30-23 win in the Big Peach in 2013. However, the Falcons have outscored New England 300-249. Atlanta’s last win over New England came in 1998 in Foxboro, where they left Gillette Stadium with a 41-10 win in hand. Atlanta is 0-1 in their only Super Bowl, while the Pats are 4-4 in eight trips to the big game.

Fpr one team, they’ll have a parade and a Lombardi Trophy to keep as well as bragging rights for the season. For the other, they’ll be talked about and second-guessed for years and years. Super Bowl Sunday is finally here. The last football game of the 2016 campaign. After this one’s over, there’s no more football until the pre-season, which means that most of America will be forced to watch those Gosh-awful Lifetime movies on Sundays until Baseball season. There have been 51 of these games and this contest is the star of the show in the sports world. The end of the 2016 NFL season will see a new champion.

It’s also the last chance for “THE DRILL.” It’s kinda sad but even Connie needs some time off (she can still fit into that prom dress she had in high school). (For those of you that know what The Drill is, you are excused. Everyone else, pay attention. We don’t want any rookie mistakes here, k?) After you go to the 9:30 mass on Sunday (the 4:30 vigil mass on Saturday counts as a mass attended, people! Don’t make us send the nuns after you! If we do, it is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OVER!), head to your favorite store (a trip to Wal Mart, Target, K-Mart or Costco counts) and get the vittles and the beverages (soda, beer, wine, coffee, et al… if you live in a state that allows the purchase of the items in question) and invite the co-workers, the neighbors (including that really cute kindergarden teacher that knows what to do with a cover-2 defense) and your cousin Connie (remember her? She’s the one that’s been married twice that’s just turned 57 last June and dates a 42-year old ex-Marine, who’s now a football coach at the high school in your town. She’s also the one that ate an entire Oreo cheesecake, two bags of Cool Ranch Doritos, two bacon cheeseburgers with blue cheese and chugged two 2-liter Cokes at your Super Bowl party last year and didn’t gain a pound. You look at her and say to yourself, “what the hell?”

It’s the FINAL game of the 2016 campaign. When this one’s over, the winners get the Lombardi Trophy and each player gets a $107,000 check (Which comes out to $26,750 a quarter or $1,733.33 a minute). The loser? They don’t come away completely empty handed. Granted, the check isn’t as big as the winner’s. Each player on the losing team gets a whopping $53,000 or $13,250 a quarter or $883.33 a minute.

The last game of the 2016 campaign gets underway in Houston at NRG Stadium, which will make it the third time that Texas’ largest city has hosted the big game.

Two teams. One game. It all comes down to this.

New England has 9 Super Bowl berths, most in NFL history. Have won 8 consecutive division titles, longest streak in NFL history. Since 2001, have won 4 Super Bowl titles, most in NFL. Have 31-19 (.620) all-time postseason record, 2nd highest winning pct. in playoff history. Head coach Bill Belichick has 25 career postseason wins, most all-time and has won 4 Super Bowl titles (XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX, XLIX), tied with Chuck Noll for most in NFL history. As far as their resepctive divisons go, both clubs won their divisions with one loss under their belts (Atlanta lost to Tampa Bay at home in week one, while the Pats were shut out by Buffalo in Foxboro in week four).

Atlanta is making their 2nd Super Bowl appearance in franchise history. Atlanta won the NFC South title and advanced to postseason for 1st time since 2012. Ranked 1st in NFL in total points (540) and 2nd in total offense (415.8 yards per game). Head coach Dan Quinn is making 3rd Super Bowl appearance in past 4 seasons and Was defensive coordinator for Seattle in Super Bowls XLVIII and XLIX.

“It’s an honor to get to go and play in this game,” says Patriots wide receiver Julian Edleman, who is the franchise postseason leader in both catches (84) and receiving yards (937). “This is what you fight for. This is what you train for. It’s to get an opportunity to play in this game,” he told the Boston Globe and the Christian Scientist Monitor.

“This is a really special team,” says Falcons fullback Patrick Di Marco told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We have so many playmakers on offense, defense and special teams. This is a special time for this organization. I am super proud and super excited we are going to be playing in Houston. The ultimate goal is to win the Super Bowl – not just get there – and we still have a game ahead of us. We still have one more game to win.”

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady will be making their seventh 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 four Super Bowls together, tied with Pittsburgh head coach Chuck Noll and quarterback Terry Bradshaw for the most by a head coach and starting quarterback combination.

“I’m proud of this team,” says Belichick. “They all deserve this. It’s a good, hard-working group.”

Belichick is tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer Noll for the most Super Bowl victories by a head coach with four. Brady, who is making his NFL-record seventh career Super Bowl start, is tied with Pro Football Hall of Famers Bradshaw and JOE MONTANA for the most Super Bowl wins by a starting quarterback with four.

“You never know if you’ll get these opportunities in life and fortunately this team has got the opportunity,” says Brady about advancing to the Super Bowl. “Now we’ve got to do something and go try and take advantage of it.”

Brady and Montana are the only players in NFL history to be named Super Bowl MVP three times. Brady, who was the MVP of Super Bowls XXXVI, XXXVIII and XLIX, can become the first player ever to win Super Bowl MVP honors four times.

Brady enters Super Bowl LI already holding numerous Super Bowl passing records, including attempts (247), completions (164), yards (1,605) and touchdown passes (13).

“He’s the best quarterback to ever play the game,” says Patriots running back Le Garrette Blount about Brady. “He’s obviously, in my opinion, the best ever.”

The Patriots have won nine consecutive games and advanced to the Super Bowl with a 36-17 victory over Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium. In that contest, Brady passed for 384 yards and three touchdowns, including two scoring strikes to wide receiver Chris Hogan. Hogan finished the game with nine catches for a franchise postseason-record 180 yards and two touchdowns.

“I’m just happy to take advantage of this opportunity and be a part of this team,” says Hogan. “This whole team has worked so hard starting in April in OTAs. We’ve grinded through this entire year. This is what we worked for and this is what we wanted to get to.”

Patriots running back Blount, who led the NFL with a club-record 18 rushing touchdowns, added a rushing TD against the Steelers in the AFC Championship Game. Including the postseason, Blount’s 19 rushing touchdowns are tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer Curtis Martin (1996) for the most by a Patriots player in a single season.

The Falcons advanced to the Super Bowl for the second time in franchise history (Super Bowl XXXIII, 1998 season) with a 44-21 win over Green Bay in the final game at the Georgia Dome.

Atlanta, which led the NFL with 540 points scored, has won six consecutive games and is averaging 39.0 points per game over that span. The Falcons are the first team ever to advance to the Super Bowl by scoring at least 30 points in each of the club’s previous six games.

“I’m happy for everybody in our organization,” says Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. “We’ve worked hard to get to this point but the challenge is still in front of us. What we set out to accomplish is still in front of us. It’s really difficult to get to this point, and we will enjoy the process leading into it but our ultimate goal is still in front of us.”

Falcons head coach Dan Quinn, who is in his second year with the team, will be making his third Super Bowl appearance in the past four seasons. Quinn was Seattle’s defensive coordinator in Super Bowls XLVIII (2013 season) and XLIX (2014).

“I am excited for the opportunity. But more importantly, I’m excited for these players,” says Quinn. “It’ll be a great challenge.”

Atlanta quarterback Ryan, who led the league with a franchise-record 117.1 passer rating, has continued his stellar play in the postseason with a 132.6 passer rating. Over the team’s six-game winning streak, Ryan has thrown 18 touchdown passes and no interceptions for a 133.3 passer rating.

“MVP,” says Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones when asked how to describe Ryan. “He’s a great player. He’s a great leader on this team and he’s my brother.”

Ryan has thrown at least three touchdown passes in four consecutive postseason games, the first player in NFL history to accomplish the feat. In this year’s playoffs, Ryan has seven touchdown passes and no interceptions.

The Falcons have spread the ball out as Ryan threw a touchdown pass to 13 different players in the regular season, the most ever in a season in league history. Among his favorite targets is Jones, who led the NFL averaging 100.6 receiving yards per game this season (1,409 yards in 14 games).

“He’s a beast,” says Ryan about Jones. “He’s an absolute stud. I’ve been so lucky to play with him as long as I have.”

Jones had nine catches for 180 yards and two touchdowns in the NFC Championship Game against the Packers. It marked his second career postseason game with at least 180 receiving yards and two touchdowns and he is the only player in league history to accomplish that feat in multiple playoff games. In five career postseason games, Jones has 552 receiving yards and five touchdown catches. His average of 110.4 receiving yards per game is the highest in NFL postseason history (minimum five games).

Defensively, the Falcons are powered by Vic Beasley, Jr., who led the NFL in sacks (15.5), and a quartet of rookies – safety Keanu Neal, cornerback Brian Poole and linebackers Deion Jones and De’Vondre Campbell. All four rookies started in the NFC Championship Game and Atlanta can become the first team ever to start four rookies on defense in the Super Bowl. Jones (106) and Neal (105) led all NFL rookies in tackles this season.

“Every day, we are just trying to get one percent better for the guy next to us,” says Poole. “Every play, we are going to give it all we’ve got and not let our teammates down. We’re going out there trying to play ball and let people know that what we’ve got is serious.”

Beasley, who is in his second year, had a career-high 15.5 sacks and is the first Falcons player to lead the league in sacks. During the team’s current six-game winning streak, Atlanta has allowed just 19.3 points per game (27.6 points per game in the team’s first 12 games).

“We feel like we have the potential to be a great defense,” Beasley told WSB-TV. “Early in the season, we weren’t playing as well but we have come a long way and now we’re going to the Super Bowl.”

New England’s favored by 3 points in the last game of the 2016 National Football League season and the over/under is 59. Both numbers make a lot of sense. There’s a lot at stake and not just for those that have ads in this year’s contest. There’s a lot at stake for the teams that are involved. The winners will be looked at and heralded for eternity, while the losers will be second-guessed for the entire off season. The winner gets to pick last in the upcoming draft, the loser will pick 31st. Rise up, Atlanta! You’re picking last. Falcons cover the 3 and pull off the upset.

Records vs. Common Opponents

New England: 4-1 (Arizona. 1-0; Denver 1-0; Los Angeles Rams 1-0; Seattle. 0-1; San Francisco 1-0)

Atlanta: 5-1 (Arizona 1-0; Denver 1-0; Los Angeles 1-0; Seattle 1-1; San Francisco 1-0)(Atlanta’s win over Seattle came in the Divisional Round)

Playoff Records – New England: 31-19; Atlanta: 9-12

Broadcast Information – 6:30 p.m. on FOX: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews, Chris Myers (Field reporters). Westwood One: Kevin Harlan, Boomer Esiason, Tony Boselli, James Lofton (Field reporters). SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 81 (New England), 82 (Atlanta). XM: 88 (WestWood1), 225 (New England), 82 (Atlanta)

Referee: Carl Chefferss

Injury Report

ATLANTA – Atlanta reported no injuries.

New England – New England reported no injuries.

Weather Report: Game indoors

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

Championship Sunday Broadcast Information (All Times Eastern)

NFC Championship – Green Bay at ATLANTA, 3:05 p.m. on FOX: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews, Chris Myers (Field reporters). Westwood One: Kevin Kugler, James Lofton, Tony Boselli (Field reporter). SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 81 (Green Bay), 82 (Atlanta). XM: 88 (WestWood1), 225 (Green Bay), 82 (Atlanta).

AFC Championship – Pittsburgh at New England, 6:40 p.m. on CBS: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Tracy Wolfson, Jay Feely (Field reporters). Westwood One: Kevin Harlan, Dan Fouts, Ross Tucker (Field reporter). SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 81 (Pittsburgh), 82 (New England). XM: 88 (WestWood1), 225 (Pittsburgh), 82 (New England).

Sunday Officials
NFC Championship: Green Bay at ATLANTA, 3:05 p.m. – Bill Vinovich
AFC Championship: Pittsburgh at New England, 6:40 p.m. – Terry McAulay

Sunday Odds
Favorite                Spread    Underdog              O/U
ATLANTA                 –  4      Green Bay             61
NEW ENGLAND             –  6      Pittsburgh            51

Sunday Injury Report

Green Bay at ATLANTA, 3:05 p.m.

Green Bay
OUT: RB James Starks (Concussion), C Joseph Tretter (Knee)
QUESTIONABLE: WR Davante Adams (Ankle), WR Geronimo Allison (Hamstring), WR Jordy Nelson (Ribs), S Morgan Burnett (Quad), CB Quinten Rollins (Neck)

ATLANTA – Atlanta reported no injuries

Pittsburgh at New England, 6:40 p.m.

Pittsburgh
QUESTIONABLE: LB James Harrison (Shoulder), RB Fitzgerald Toussaint (Concussion), TE Ladarius Green (Concussion)

New England
QUESTIONABLE: WR Danny Amendola (Ankle), TE Martellus Bennett (Knee), RB Brandon Bolden (Knee), LB Qualin Hightower (Knee), WR Chris Hogan (Thigh), WR Malcom Mitchell (Knee), DE Jabaal Sheard (Knee)

Sunday Weather
NFC: Green Bay at ATLANTA, 3:05 p.m. on FOX (Game indoors)
AFC: Pittsburgh at New England, 6:40 p.m. on CBS (Cloudy and 42 degrees)

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

Four teams left standing. Two of them will be heading to Houston in two weeks, while the other two teams will be clearing out their lockers and preparing for the 2017 draft.

As was the case last week, this week’s contest are rematches. It’s made-for-television football. Hollywood could not write a better script. For the teams that won the first meeting, it’s a chance to prove that the first time was no fluke. For the teams that lost that first meeting, the revenge factor will come up on numerous occasions during the broadcasts.

We can’t stress this enough. This time of year is NOT like the regular season. In the regular season, you lose, your play next week. This time of year, you lose, your next game is in September.

The playoffs are sort of like the kids’ party game “Musical Chairs.” As long as there are chairs available and the music is playing, you have a chance. It’s when the music stops is when the chaos starts.

Win.

Trip to Houston.

Lose.

Kickoff is next September.

It’s not fair but it is what it is. That’s the beauty of playoff football.

SUPER CHAMPIONSHIP: In 2016, New England won their eighth AFC East title in a row, the most consecutive division titles in NFL history, and have advanced to the AFC Championship Game for the sixth season in a row – also the longest streak all-time. The Patriots are 8-5 (.615) in AFC Championship Games all-time.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have advanced to the AFC Championship Game for the 16th time in franchise history and are 8-7 (.533).

The winner of Sunday’s AFC Championship Game will set an NFL record for the most Super Bowl berths in NFL history.

The teams with the most Super Bowl appearances:

TEAM – SUPER BOWL APPEARANCES
Dallas – 8
Denver – 8
New England – 8*
Pittsburgh – 8*
San Francisco – 6
*Play in AFC Championship Game Sunday

Pittsburgh, New England and Green Bay have three of the four highest postseason win totals in NFL history and are all in action on Championship Sunday.

The Steelers, who defeated Miami in the Wild Card round and Kansas City in the Divisional Playoffs, have 36 postseason wins, the most in NFL history. The Packers (34) and Patriots (30) rank tied for second and tied for fourth, respectively, in all-time postseason victories.

The teams with the most postseason wins in NFL history:

TEAM, WINS-LOSSES, PCT (SUPER BOWL WINS)
Pittsburgh 36-23, .610 (6)*
Green Bay 34-21, .618 (4)*
Dallas 34-27, .557 (5)
New England 30-19, .612 (4)*
San Francisco 30-20, .600 (5)
*Play this weekend

BEEN THERE, DONE THAT: This weekend’s Championship Games will feature three quarterbacks who have combined for seven Super Bowl titles: New England’s TOM BRADY (four), Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger (two) and Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers (one).

The starting quarterbacks for this weekend’s Championship Games with Super Bowl titles:

PLAYER, TEAM (SUPER BOWL TITLES)
Tom Brady, New England Patriots (4 – XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX, XLIX)
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh (2 – XL, XLIII)
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay (1 – XLV)

The seven combined Super Bowl victories by Brady, Roethlisberger and Rodgers are the most by the four starting quarterbacks playing in a season’s Conference Championship Games.

The most combined Super Bowl wins by the four starting quarterbacks in a season’s Championship Games:

YEAR – PLAYERS (NUMBER OF SUPER BOWL WINS), COMBINED SUPER BOWL TITLES
2016 – Tom Brady* (4), Ben Roethlisberger* (2), Aaron Rodgers* (1) = 7
2015 – Tom Brady (4), Peyton Manning (1) = 5
2014 – Tom Brady (3), Aaron Rodgers (1), Russell Wilson (1) = 5
1993 – Joe Montana (4), Troy Aikman (1) = 5

*Play this weekend

PROLIFIC PASSERS: Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan led the NFL with a 117.1 passer rating in 2016, the fifth-highest single-season rating in NFL history. New England’s Tom Brady (112.2) and Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers (104.2) ranked second and fourth respectively.

The four quarterbacks projected to start the AFC and NFC Championship Games on Sunday combined for a 107.0 passer rating this season, the highest combined regular-season passer rating by the four starting quarterbacks in a season’s Championship Games.

The four starting quarterbacks with the highest combined regular-season passer rating in a season’s Championship Games:

YEAR – PLAYERS (PASSER RATING); COMBINED PASSER RATING
2016 – Matt Ryan (117.1), Tom Brady (112.2), Aaron Rodgers (104.2), Ben Roethlisberger (95.4); 107.0
1998 – Randall Cunningham (106.0), Vinny Testaverde (101.6), Chris Chandler (100.9), John Elway (93.0); 100.7

STREAKING STARS: Several of the NFL’s best and brightest have the opportunity to make their mark in the postseason record book on Championship Sunday.

Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers passed for 355 yards and two touchdowns in the Packers’ 34-31 victory at Dallas in the Divisional Playoffs. Rodgers, who has passed for at least 350 yards and two touchdowns in both postseason games this season, can tie Drew Brees (three) for the most consecutive playoff games with at least 350 passing yards and two touchdown passes in NFL postseason history.

The most consecutive postseason games with at least 350 passing yards and two touchdown passes:

PLAYER – TEAM, SEASON(S); STREAK
Drew Brees – New Orleans, 2010-11; 3
Aaron Rodgers – Green Bay, 2016; 2*
Kurt Warner – Arizona, 2008-09; 2
Kurt Warner – St. Louis Rams, 1999-2000; 2
*Active streak

Pittsburgh running back Le’Veon Bell rushed for 170 yards in the Steelers 18-16 win at Kansas City in the Divisional Playoffs and is the first player in NFL history to rush for at least 150 yards in each of his first two career postseason games. Bell, who had 167 rushing yards and two touchdowns in the Wild Card win against Miami, has the two highest single-game rushing performances in franchise postseason history.

With 113 rushing yards at New England on Sunday, Bell would become the fifth player in NFL history with at least 450 rushing yards in a single postseason.

The players with the most rushing yards in a single postseason:

PLAYER, TEAM; SEASON – RUSH YARDS
John Riggins, Washington; 1982 – 610
Terrell Davis, Denver; 1997 – 581
Terrell Davis, Denver; 1998 – 468
Marcus Allen, Los Angeles Raiders; 1983 – 466
Eddie George, Tennessee; 1999 – 449
Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh; 2016 – 337*
*Through two games

Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan passed for 338 yards with three touchdowns for a 125.7 rating in the Falcons’ 36-20 win over Seattle in the Divisional Playoffs.

With three touchdown passes against Green Bay on Sunday, Ryan, who has thrown for three touchdowns in each of his past three playoff games, would become the first quarterback in NFL history with at least three touchdown passes in four consecutive postseason games.

The most consecutive postseason games with at least three touchdown passes:

PLAYER – SEASON(S); TEAM, CONSECUTIVE GAMES WITH 3+ TOUCHDOWN PASSES
Matt Ryan – 2012, 2016; Atlanta – 3*
Tom Brady – 2014; New England – 3
Joe Flacco – 2012; Baltimore Ravens – 3
Aaron Rodgers – 2009-10; Green Bay – 3
Kurt Warner – 2008-09; Arizona – 3
Bernie Kosar – 1987, 1989; Cleveland – 3
*Active streak

SUPER COMBINATION: New England head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady have made six Super Bowl appearances together, the most appearances by any head coach-quarterback combination in NFL history.

With a win Sunday against the Steelers, the Patriots can extend their NFL record for the most such Super Bowl appearances.

The head coach-quarterback combinations with the most Super Bowl appearances in NFL history:

QUARTERBACK/HEAD COACH, TEAM – SUPER BOWL APPEARANCES
Tom Brady/Bill Belichick, New England – 6*
Roger Staubach/Tom Landry, Dallas – 4
Jim Kelly/Marv Levy, Buffalo – 4
Terry Bradshaw/Chuck Noll, Pittsburgh – 4
*Active

With a win, Belichick (six) would surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer DON SHULA (six) and become the only coach to lead his team(s) to seven Super Bowls.

The head coaches to reach the most Super Bowls:

HEAD COACH – SUPER BOWL BERTHS
Bill Belichick – 6*
Don Shula – 6
Tom Landry – 5
Five tied with 4

*Active Sunday

AFC TROPHY PRESENTATION: The Lamar Hunt Trophy will be presented to the winner of the AFC Championship Game.

The late Hunt, founder of the Kansas City Chiefs and American Football League, helped professional football attain its stature as America’s No. 1 sport. In the 10-year history of the AFL, his team posted the most wins (87) and earned berths in two of the first four Super Bowls, including a victory in Super Bowl IV.

In 1972, Hunt became the first person from the AFL to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

NFC TROPHY PRESENTATION: The winner of the NFC Championship Game will be presented with the George Halas Trophy.

Halas, the late owner of the Chicago Bears and a founder of the NFL, is the second-winningest coach in history (324-151-31) behind Don Shula (347-173-6). He won six NFL championships with the Bears and is a charter enshrinee of the Pro Football Hall of Fame (1963).
RECORDS VS. COMMON OPPONENTS (INCLUDING PLAYOFFS)
Green Bay: 2-0 (Philadelphia 1-0; Seattle 1-0)
Atlanta: 1-2 (Philadelphia. 0-1; Seattle 1-1)
Pittsburgh.: 8-2 (Miami 1-1; Buffalo 1-0; Cleveland 2-0; Cincinnati 2-0; New York Jets 1-0; Baltimore 1-1)
New England: 8-1 (Miami 2-0; Buffalo 1-1; Cleveland 1-0; Cincinnati 1-0; New York Jets 2-0; Baltimore 1-0)

Playoff Records
Pittsburgh: 36-23
New England: 30-19
Green Bay: 34-21
Atlanta: 8-12

As far as the NFC goes… The Packers have won 13 NFL championships, most all-time and the team’s.618 postseason winning pct. (34-21) is best in NFL history among teams with 50+ games played. This is Green Bay’s 32nd playoff appearance, tied for most in NFL history. Mike McCarthy has led team to playoffs in 9 of his 11 seasons as head coach and is 10-7 in the postseason.

Atlanta won the NFC South and advanced to postseason for 1st time since 2012 and are 5-3 at home in playoffs in franchise history. Ranked 1st in NFL in total points (540) & 2nd in total offense (415.8 yards per game). Falcons head coach Dan Quinn won 1st career playoff game last week.

On the AFC side of the docket… The Steelers have 36-23 all-time postseason record, most playoff wins all-time and rank 4th all-time in postseason win pct. (.610), while winning 7 division titles since 2002.

New England has appeared in 6 consecutive Conference Championship Games, most all-time and the Pats have won 8 consecutive division titles, longest streak in NFL history. Since 2001, New England has won 4 Super Bowl titles, most in NFL and the Pats are 30-19 (.612) all-time postseason record, 3rd highest winning pct. in playoff history. Head coach Bill Belichick has 24 career postseason wins, most all-time. Belichick won 4 Super Bowl titles (XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX, XLIX), tied with Chuck Noll for most in NFL history.

The two championship games have late kickoffs in the afternoon and early evening, which means after church on Sunday, you can go grocery shopping. Also, we’re making both games “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 kindergarten teacher that knows what to do with a cover-2 defense) and your cousin Connie (remember her? She’s the one that’s been married twice that’s just turned 57 last June and dates a 42-year old ex-Marine, who’s now a football coach at the high school in your town. She’s also the one that ate an entire Oreo cheesecake, two bags of Cool Ranch Doritos, two bacon cheeseburgers with blue cheese and chugged two 2-liter Cokes at your Super Bowl party last year and didn’t gain a pound. You look at her and say to yourself, “what the hell?”

For the week, 3-1. For the season, 181-81. When things come to an end on Sunday night in Foxboro, one team will have the Halas Trophy for winning the NFC Title, while the other will possess the Hunt Trophy for being the winner in the AFC. They’ll have two weeks to prepare for the Super Bowl in Houston. The two losers? Their fan base will be second-guessing themselves all the way to the draft, OTA’s and training camp. Two will survive and have a chance to take the Lombardi Trophy home from NRG Stadium in Houston.

“The most important fight you have is the one you’re in,” Atlanta head coach Dan Quinn told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Georgia State University Signal, WSB-TV, WXIA-TV, WAGA-TV and WGCL-TV. This time of year, it is a fight. A fight to the finish, if you will.

The final four teams are set and this Sunday will determine the two teams heading to Houston for Super Bowl LI.

Championship Sunday begins with the NFC title game between the Green Bay Packers and Atlanta Falcons in the final NFL game at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons defeated Seattle 36-20 in the Divisional round and the Packers knocked off the top-seeded Cowboys 34-31. The teams met in Week 8 (October 30, 2016) with the Falcons notching a 33-32 victory.

The AFC Championship Game will feature the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots, the fifth postseason meeting between the clubs and the third in a row that will occur in the AFC Championship Game. In the Divisional Playoffs, the Steelers knocked off the Chiefs 18-16 and the Patriots defeated the Texans 34-16.

Green Bay (10-6, NFC North champion, 4th seed) at ATLANTA (11-5, NFC South champion, 2nd seed), 3:05 p.m. on FOX. Aaron Rodgers. Matt Ryan. They meet again in the Big Peach. This time, it for the NFC Championship and the right to go on to Houston for Super Bowl LI. While the Falcons advanced with some ease last Saturday, the Packers needed luck and the strong leg of Mason Crosby to advance to the final round.

The Packers used two Mason Crosby field goals in the final minute of play to come away 34-31 winners over number one seed Dallas last Sunday in Arlington at JerryWorld. Green Bay led 21-13 at the half at AT&T Stadium and took its largest lead of the contest when Rodgers and TE Jared Cook connected on a 3-yard TD pass with 11:25 left in the third quarter. Dallas would eventually chip away at the Packer lead and then tie things up with 4:08 left in regulation when Dak Prescott (302 yards, 2 TDs, interception) and WR Dez Bryant connected on their second TD pass of the afternoon, a 7-yard pass to make it a 2-point contest. Prescott then tied the contest up when he scored on the two-point conversion. Then the kickers took over, as Crosby connected on his first field goal of the fourth quarter, making a 56-yarder with 1:33 left. Dallas would not be outdone as Dan Bailey would tie things back up for the Cowboys, connecting on a 52-yarder with 35 seconds left. Green Bay would not be outdone as the Packers marched their way down the field as Crosby had first kicked a 51-yard try with five seconds left but Dallas called a time out in an attempt to ice Crosby. Crosby was having none of it, as he connected on his second field goal in the fourth quarter, a 51-yarder as the clock struck :00. Dallas outrushed Green Bay 138-87, with Cowboys rookie RB Ezekiel Elliott doing most of the damage with 125 yards, while Rodgers threw for 356 yards and a pair of TDs. Both teams went 6 of 11 on third down conversions, while Dallas held the pigskin for 30:14 to Green Bay’s 29:46.

Atlanta led the NFL with 540 points scored during the regular season, the first time in franchise history the Falcons have ranked No. 1 in that category. Including last week’s Divisional Playoff game, Atlanta has scored a touchdown on its first possession in each of the past seven games. Atlanta advanced to the championship game last Saturday, taking Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks to task in the Georgia Dome, coming away 36-20. Atlanta erased a 10-9 second quarter deficit, taking the lead for keeps as Matt Bryant nailed a 35-yard field goal with 6:06 left before the intermission. Atlanta then floored the gas and took a 19-10 lead with them to the locker room when RB Tevin Coleman and Ryan connected on a 14-yard TD pass with 53 seconds left. After RB DeVonta Freeman scored from a yard out halfway through the third quarter, Seattle managed to pull to within two scores when Steven Hauschka kicked a 26-yard field goal to make it a 26-13 game. Bryant’s second field goal, a 31-yarder with 14:57 left to play and a Mohamed Sanu 3-yard TD pass Ryan ended the scoring for Atlanta and allowed them to put the contest away. While Seattle outrushed Atlanta 101-99, Ryan outpaced Russell Wilson (two TDs, two interceptions, three sacks) 338-225 in passing yardage. Atlanta was 50 percent on third down conversions, going 6 of 12 and kept the ball for 33:19, while the Seahawks were 5 of 11 on third down, keeping the pigskin for 26:41.

In post-season play, the Packers lead the series 2-1 and have outscored Atlanta 92-68. Atlanta’s only post-season win over Green Bay came in 2002 when they came into Lambeau and came away 27-7 winners in the NFC Wild Card round, while Green Bay’s last win over Atlanta in post-season action came in the Big Peach in 2010 by a final of 48-21 in the NFC Divisional Playoffs.

They met in the Big Peach in week eight and the Falcons managed to come away 33-32 winners over Rodgers and the Packers. Green Bay led 24-19 at the half and the Packers were leading by 4 with 31 seconds left when Ryan and WR Mohamed Sanu connected on an 11-yard TD pass to take the lead for keeps. Atlanta then held off the Packers and Ryan as they had one last chance to take the lead back. Green Bay outrushed Atlanta 108-90, while Ryan threw for 288 yards and three TDs, including the game-winner. Rodgers threw for 246 yards and four TDs in the late-afternoon contest at the Georgia Dome. Green Bay went 6 of 10 on third down tries, 0 of 1 on fourth down and held on to the ball for 31:17, while the Falcons, who went 4 of 9 and 1 of 1 on third and fourth downs, kept the pigskin for 28:43.

In the week eight contest in the Big Peach, Atlanta was favored by 3 and won by a single point, missing the spread. Both teams achieved the 52 1/2 over/under by scoring 65 points. The Falcons are favored again, this time by 4 and the over/under’s 61. Both offenses are capable of making that number happen and both teams have QBs that will all but be in Canton when they hang up their cleats. Green Bay’s looking for revenge, while Atlanta looks to close out the final game in the Georgia Dome with a win under their wings. The Halas trophy’s going to love their Southern home as Atlanta will take this one but expect Green Bay to make it a lot closer than the 4.

Pittsburgh (11-5, AFC North Champion, 3rd seed) at New England (14-2, AFC East Champion, 1st seed), 6:40 p.m. on CBS. Roethlisberger. Brady. They meet again and the setting’s not in western Pennsylvania. It’s in Foxboro and it’s for the AFC Championship. Ben Roethilsberger and Tom Brady meet for the right to be the AFC representative in Houston in two weeks.

The Steelers survived a late Kansas City rally at Arrowhead last Sunday night (the game was scheduled to be an afternoon contest but the NFL moved the kick time to evening because of weather), coming away 18-16 winners over the Chiefs. Pittsburgh erased a 7-6 first quarter deficit at Arrowhead last Sunday, took a 12-7 lead into the break and then held off what the Chiefs hoped would be the tying TD when Kansas City’s Spencer Ware scored from a yard out with 2:43 left in the contest.
Kansas City then went for two, in hopes of tying the contest up and perhaps sending it into overtime when Alex Smith (172 yards, TD, interception) and TE Demetrius Harris connected on what they thought was a successful try. There was one small problem… there was a yellow piece of fabric on the ground, as OT Eric Fisher was called for holding. The ball got moved back 10 yards, the Chiefs tried again, only to fail and the Steelers, who got all of their scoring from six Chris Boswell field goals, ran out the clock and took the win. Pittsburgh outrushed Kansas City 171-61, with RB LeVeon Bell leading all rushers with 170 of those yards, while Roethlisberger threw for 224 yards. Neither club did anything for their fan bases to celebrate about on third down, as the Steelers were 7 of 15, while the Chiefs were 2 of 9 (Kansas City did strike pay dirt on fourth down, going 2 of 2) and Pittsburgh ruled the clock and held on to the ball for 34:13 to Kansas City’s 25:47.

New England led Houston from start to finish, beating the Texans 34-16 in the AFC Divisional contest in Foxboro. Although the Texans made the contest close at halftime, Brady and the Pats led 17-13 at the intermission, then pulled away from Houston to advance to the championship round, outscoring Houston 17-3 in the final 30 minutes of action. Houston did manage to outrush New England 104-98 but Brady threw for 287 yards and a pair of TDs along with two interceptions, while Houston’s Brock Osweiler threw for 198 yards, a TD and three interceptions (Osweiler was sacked three times, while Brady was sacked twice). New England was 5 of 14 on third down conversions and held on to the ball for 27:30, while Houston, who was 3 of 16 on third down tries, ruled the clock, holding the pigskin for 32:30.

They met this year at Heinz Field and New England were 27-16 winners in week seven. New England led 14-17 at the half over a Roethlisberger-less Steelers club and outscored Pittsburgh 13-6 in the final 30 minutes of play. LeGarrett Blount ran for 127 yards and a pair of TDs (New England outrushed Pittsburgh 140-94), while Brady (222  yards) threw a pair of TDs, including a 36-yard strike to Gronkowski. Pittsburgh’s Landry Jones, taking over for Roethilsberger, threw for 281 yards and one TD to WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, while throwing an interception. New England, who turned the ball over twice, kept the ball for 27:31, going 7 of 12 on third down, while Pittsburgh ruled the clock and held the ball for 32:29 and went 5 of 16 and 1 of 2 on third and fourth downs.

In post-season play, the Patriots hold a 3-1 lead in the series and have outscored the Steelers 99-54. New England’s last post-season win came in 2004 in the Steel City by a final of 41-27 in the AFC Championship, while Pittsburgh’s lone win over the Pats in post-season action came in 1997 at old Three Rivers Stadium by a final of 7-6.

New England covered the 7-point spread in week seven, winning by 11 at Heinz Field. The 45 1/2 over/under was safe, as both teams could only muster 43 points. The Pats are the favored ones again, this time by 6 and the over/under’s 51. The winner gets to hold the Lamar Hunt trophy and be the AFC’s representative in Houston, while the loser gets lovely parting gifts, including clearing out their lockers. New England can pack their bags and head to Houston. Pats win but this could get closer than the 6.

Two games down. Fourteen more to go.

Eight teams are off to strong starts at 2-0: Baltimore, Denver, Houston, Minnesota, New England, the New York Giants, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

Among the 2-0 teams are the Ravens, Giants and Eagles, who each missed the playoffs last season and are candidates to be turnaround teams in 2016. 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.

“We’re 2-0 and you can’t get any better than that,” Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. told the New York Times and USA Today. “It’s a lot of fun to be a part of. We’re going to keep taking it one step at a time. We’ve got a great opportunity to go to 3-0 and win another division game.”

The chances of making the playoffs after a 2-0 start are good but far from a sure thing. Since 1990, when the current playoff format was adopted, 134 of the 212 teams (63.2 percent) to start 2-0 have qualified for the postseason.

However, with 14 games remaining, there’s plenty of time to turn things around. Since realignment in 2002, nearly 60 percent of the playoff teams (59.5 percent, 100 of 169) started the season at either 1-1 or 0-2.

CLOSE GAMES: The 2016 NFL season is off to a thrilling start. Through Week 2, 21 of 32 games (65.6 percent) have been decided by seven points or fewer, the second-most in a season’s first two weeks in NFL history (22 in 2013).

Most games decided by seven points or fewer through Week 2:

SEASON – GAMES DECIDED BY SEVEN POINTS OR FEWER THROUGH WEEK 2
2013 – 22
2016 – 21
2010 – 19
2000 – 18
Many tied with 17

There have been 27 games through Week 2 within one score in the fourth quarter, tied for the most through a season’s first two weeks in NFL history (2013).

Most games within one score in the fourth quarter through Week 2:

SEASON – GAMES WITHIN ONE SCORE IN THE 4TH QUARTER THROUGH WEEK 2
2016 – 27
2013 – 27
2004 – 25
2015 – 24
2009 – 23
2007 – 23

The nine games decided by seven points or fewer in Week 2: New York Jets 37, Buffalo 31 (Thursday); Baltimore 25, Cleveland 20; Tennessee 16, Detroit 15; Houston 19, Kansas City 12; New England 31, Miami 24; New York Giants 16, New Orleans 13; Dallas 27, Washington 23; Los Angeles 9, Seattle 3; Atlanta 35, Oakland 28; Minnesota 17, Green Bay 14.

PROLIFIC PASS CATCHERS: A total of 247 players had at least one reception in the 16 NFL games played in Week 2, the most players with a reception in one week in NFL history.

The previous record was 242 players with at least one reception, which was set in Week 12 last season.

ALL-TIME PASSERS: New York Giants quarterback ELI MANNING passed for 368 yards in the Giants’ 16-13 win over New Orleans. Manning has 44,762 career passing yards, surpassing DREW BLEDSOE (44,611) to move into 10th place in NFL history.

New Orleans quarterback DREW BREES passed for 263 yards in Week 2 and now has 61,589 career passing yards, surpassing Pro Football Hall of Famer DAN MARINO (61,361) for the third-most in NFL history.

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

PLAYER (YEARS), CAREER PASSING YARDS
Peyton Manning (1998-2015), 71,940
Brett Favre (1991-2010), 71,838
Drew Brees (2001-present), 61,589
Dan Marino (1983-1999), 61,361
Tom Brady (2000-present), 58,028
John Elway (1983-1998), 51,475
Warren Moon (1984-2000), 49,325
Fran Tarkenton (1961-1978), 47,003
Vinny Testaverde (1987-2007), 46,233
Eli Manning (2004-present), 44,762

FRESH START: Eight teams are undefeated through the first two weeks of the season – Baltimore, Denver, Houston, Minnesota, New England, the New York Giants, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh – and hope to move to 3-0 this weekend.

While no guarantee of future success, a strong start to the season is a good omen – 75.6 percent of teams (99 of 131) that started 3-0 since 1990 made the playoffs.

And don’t count out any of the 1-1 or 0-2 teams. Since realignment in 2002, 99 of the 168 playoff teams (58.9 percent) began the year at either 1-1 or 0-2, including five teams last year.

IT’S STILL EARLY: History shows that 0-2 teams advance to the playoffs more often than people might think. Since the current playoff format was instituted in 1990, 26 teams started 0-2 and still qualified for the postseason. So yes, Virginia, there is hope.

Last season, the Houston Texas started the season 0-2 and went on to win the AFC South.

The 1993 Dallas Cowboys started 0-2 before winning Super Bowl XXVIII. The 0-2 New England Patriots of 1996 played in Super Bowl XXXI and in 2001, the 0-2 Patriots won Super Bowl XXXVI. The 2007 New York Giants started 0-2 before winning Super Bowl XLII.

The 0-2 teams since 1990 to qualify for the playoffs:

SEASON – TEAM (WINLESS START, ADVANCED TO:)
1990 – Houston Oilers (0-2, AFC Wild Card Playoffs); Philadelphia (0-2, NFC Wild Card Playoffs); New Orleans (0-2, NFC Wild Card Playoffs)
1991 – Atlanta (0-2, NFC Wild Card Playoffs)
1992 – San Diego (0-4, AFC Divisional Playoffs)
1993 – Pittsburgh (0-2, AFC Wild Card Playoffs); Dallas (0-2, Won Super Bowl XXVIII)
1994 – New England (0-2, AFC Wild Card Playoffs)
1995 – Detroit (0-3, NFC Wild Card Playoffs)
1996 – New England (0-2, Lost Super Bowl XXXI)
1998 – Arizona (0-2, NFC Divisional Playoffs); Buffalo (0-3, AFC Wild Card Playoffs); New York Jets (0-2, AFC Championship Game)
2001 – New England (0-2, Won Super Bowl XXXVI)
2002 – Atlanta (0-2, NFC Divisional Playoffs); Pittsburgh (0-2, AFC Divisional Playoffs)
2003 – Philadelphia (0-2, NFC Championship Game)
2006 – Kansas City (0-2, AFC Wild Card Playoffs)
2007 – New York Giants (0-2, Won Super Bowl XLII);
2008 – Miami (0-2, AFC Wild Card Playoffs); Minnesota (0-2, NFC Wild Card Playoffs); San Diego (0-2, AFC Divisional Playoffs)
2013 – Carolina (0-2, NFC Divisional Playoffs)
2014 – Indianapolis (0-2, AFC Championship Game)
2015 – Houston Texans (0-2, AFC Wild Card Playoffs); Seattle (0-2, NFC Divisional Playoffs)

CHASING PERFECTION: Quarterbacks have gotten off to a fast start this season. Arizona’s Carson Palmer, New Orleans’ Drew Brees and San Diego’s Philip Rivers have all thrown for five touchdowns and no interceptions this season.

With three touchdown passes and no interceptions this week, these quarterbacks would tie for the fourth-most touchdown passes without an interception through a team’s first three games of any season. Denver quarterback Peyton Manning had 12 touchdown passes and no interceptions through the Broncos’ first three games in 2013.

The most TD passes without an INT through a team’s first three games of a season in NFL history:

THROUGH TEAM’S FIRST THREE GAMES OF ANY SEASON
PLAYER – TEAM (YEAR – MOST TD PASSES W/OUT INT)
Peyton Manning – Denver (2013 – 12)
Peyton Manning – Indianapolis (2010 – 9)
Don Meredith – Dallas (1966 – 9)
Donovan McNabb – Philadelphia (2004 – 8)
Randall Cunningham – Philadelphia (1992 – 8)
Roman Gabriel – Los Angeles Rams (1969 – 8)
Carson Palmer – Arizona (2016 – 5)*
Drew Brees – New Orleans (2016 – 5)*
Philip Rivers – San Diego (2016 – 5)*
*Through two games

WONDERFUL WENTZ: Philadelphia rookie quarterback Carson Wentz has completed 43 of 71 passes for 468 yards and three touchdowns with zero interceptions for a 94.1 passer rating this season, while leading the Eagles to a 2-0 record. With a win against Pittsburgh on Sunday, Wentz would join Mark Sanchez (2009) as the only rookie quarterbacks since 1970 to start and win each of their teams’ first three games of the season.

AGELESS WONDER: Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams leads the NFL with 237 rushing yards. With 63 yards against Philadelphia, Williams (33 years old) would pass Pro Football Hall of Famer Walter Payton (32) as the oldest player to rush for 300 yards in the first three weeks of a season.

RECORD-BREAKING RECEIVERS: Detroit wide receiver Anquan Boldin had his first touchdown reception as a member of the Lions in Week 2.

Boldin joined Terrell Owens as the only players in NFL history to have at least 1,000 receptions (1,016) and record a touchdown catch with four different teams (Arizona, San Francisco, Baltimore and Detroit).

Titans wide receiver Andre Johnson had a touchdown reception in the Titans’ 16-15 win over Detroit.

Johnson, who has 1,057 career catches, has recorded a touchdown reception with three different teams (Houston, Indianapolis and Tennessee) and joined Boldin, Owens and Pro Football Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Cris Carter as the only players in NFL history to accomplish the feat.

HISTORIC WATT: Houston defensive end J.J. Watt recorded 1.5 sacks in the Texans’ 19-12 win over Kansas City in Week 2.

Watt has 76 sacks in 82 career games and is the second-fastest player to reach 75 sacks since the sack became an official statistic in 1982. Pro Football Hall of Famer Reggie White accomplished the feat in 62 games.

The players to reach 75 career sacks in the fewest games since 1982:

PLAYER – GAMES TO REACH 75 SACKS
Reggie White – 62
J.J. Watt – 82
Bruce Smith – 85

TERRIFIC TIGHT ENDS: Tight ends Greg Olsen (78 yards) of Carolina and Vance McDonald (75 yards) of San Francisco each had a 75+ yard touchdown reception in the Panthers’ 46-27 win over the 49ers.

It marked the first game in NFL history in which a tight end on each team had a touchdown catch of at least 75 yards.

WENTZ’S WONDERFUL START: Philadelphia rookie quarterback Carson Wentz passed for 190 yards with a touchdown and zero interceptions in the Eagles’ 29-14 victory against Chicago on Monday Night Football.

Wentz joins Pro Football Hall of Famer John Elway, Ryan Leaf, Joe Flacco and Mark Sanchez as the only rookie quarterbacks since 1970 to win their first two starts to begin a season.

Wentz, who passed for 278 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions in Philadelphia’s Kickoff Weekend win, is the first rookie quarterback since 1970 to start and win the first two games of the season without throwing an interception.

The rookie quarterbacks to start and win their team’s first two games in a season since 1970:

YEAR – PLAYER, TEAM (OVERALL RECORD AS ROOKIE STARTER, PLAYOFF RESULT
1983 – John Elway, Denver (4-6, Advanced to AFC Wild Card)
1998 – Ryan Leaf, San Diego (3-6, Missed playoffs)
2008 – Joe Flacco, Baltimore (11-5, Advanced to AFC Championship)
2009 – Mark Sanchez, New York Jets (8-7, Advanced to AFC Championship)
2016 – Carson Wentz, Philadelphia (2-0, ???)*
*Through 2 games

And with games so close this season, the difference between a win and a loss is small.

Twenty-seven games have been within one score in the fourth quarter, tied for the most ever through a season’s first two weeks (2013). And 21 games have been decided by seven points or fewer, the second-most through a season’s first two weeks in NFL history (22 in 2013).

“That’s the NFL,” says Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib – who had a key 46-yard interception-return touchdown last week – about the tightness of NFL games. “You look up at all the games and most of them are close where somebody needs to get a stop in the fourth quarter. That’s just the NFL and the nature of our league.”

Last week, we were a little down but only by one game… 10-6. Still not bad. For the year, 21-11. That’s pretty good. There’s still a lot of football left. Two weeks down, 15 to go. That’s why they play the games, as Chris Berman once said.

Week 3 got underway on Thursday night when New England shut out Houston 27-0 a showdown between a pair of 2-0 teams and it concludes on Monday night at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN when the New Orleans Saints host the Atlanta Falcons in an NFC South matchup. With that, here are the Sunday and Monday picks for week 3.

Denver (2-0) at Cincinnati (1-1), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 705. A 2-0 Broncos team, looking to pick up its second Lombardi Trophy, travels east to southern Ohio for a date with the Cincinnati Bengals.

The defending Super Bowl champion Broncos improved to 2-0 with a 34-20 win over Indianapolis. The Denver defense scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to close out the victory. Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib had a 46-yard interception-return touchdown – the ninth of his career, tied for the fourth-most in NFL history – and linebacker Shane Ray returned a fumble 15 yards for a TD after a sack and forced fumble by linebacker Von Miller. Denver led 13-6 after the first 15 minutes of action and proceeded to outscore the Colts 21-14 the rest of the way. Trevor Semian threw for 266 yards, while Andrew Luck had 197 yards and a TD but was sacked five times, including the sack that caused the fumble and final Denver TD. The Broncos outrushed Indy 134-83 and went 5 of 11 on third down conversions, keeping the ball for 30:41, while the Colts held the pigskin for 29:19, while going 6 of 14 and 1 of 1 on third and fourth downs.

Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton leads the NFL with 732 passing yards and aims for his third consecutive game with at least 350 passing yards, while Bengals running back Giovani Bernard had nine catches for 100 yards and a touchdown last week at Pittsburgh. The Bengals are looking to bounce back after their 24-16 loss at Pittsburgh last Sunday in the Steel City. Pittsburgh outrushed Cincinnati 124-46 and led 10-6 at the break. Dalton threw for 366 yards, outpacing Ben Roethlisberger’s 259 in the loss and Cincinnati turned the ball over twice (2 fumbles). The winning Steelers went 7 of 17 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth downs, holding the ball for 32:55, while the Bengals kept it for 27:05, while on third and fourth downs, they were 4 of 16 and 1 of 1.

Denver leads the series 20-9 and the defending Super Bowl champs have outscored Cincy 626-548. The clubs met in the Mile High City in week 16 and the Broncos needed overtime to come away 20-17 winners. (the Bengals’ last win in the series came in 2014 in Cincy by a 37-28 final.)

It was the battle of the substitute QB as Brad Osweiler (ManningO) and A.J McCarron (Dalton) took the field in a somewhat frigid Sports Authority Field at Mile High (temperature at kickoff? A balmy 16 degrees with a wind chill of 7). Denver trailed 14-3 at the half and then managed to take the lead for the first time when RB C.J. Anderson ran in from 39 yards out with 11:17 left in regulation. That lead would not last very long as Bengals K Mike Nugent connected on a 52 yard field goal with 6:46 left.

In the overtime, Denver got the ball first and moved downfield before stalling, sending Brandon McManus into the contest to try a 37 yard field goal. McManus connected on the try, Denver took the lead and Cincinnati had a chance to either tie things up or take the win at home. McCarron’s first pass attempt in the overtime went incomplete. McCarron’s second try did not go well, as he fumbled the ball, allowing Denver’s DeMarcus Ware to recover the fumble and take the win for the home team. Each backup QB threw a pair of TD passes in the contest, while Oswelier (3) and McCarron (2) were sacked a combined five times. Denver outrushed Cincinnati 113-108 in the overtime affair on a Sunday night and Osweiler threw for 299 yards, while McCarron threw for 200 in the game. Cincinnati on third ddwn tries went 10 of 17 and kept the ball for 37:28, while the Broncos were 4 of 11 on third down, keeping the ball for 27:50.

The Bengals are a 3 1/2 point favorite at home and the over/under’s 42. There’s no longer the Peyton factor here and that’s sort of a good thing. Denver’s got three Super Bowl rings, while the Bengals are looking for their first. Denver covers the 3 1/2 and taeks the win on the road.

Baltimore (2-0) at Jacksonville (0-2), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 706. A pair of opposites meet in the Sunshine State as Baltimore makes the 757-mile trip down I-95 to face off against the Jacksonville Jaguars, who are searching for their first win in the 2016 campaign.

Baltimore overcame a 20-12 deficit against Cleveland at the half to shut out the Browns in the final 30 minutes for a 25-20 win along the shores of Lake Erie. Although they were outrushed by Cleveland 145-80 and Joe Flacco (302 yards) was picked off twice, he did manage to throw a pair of TD passes in the five-point win. Josh McCown, who took over for Robert Griffin III, did manage to throw for 260 yards and a pair of TDs but was sacked three times and picked off twice, while Isaiah Crowell led all rushers with 133 yards and a TD. Both clubs did quite well on third down tries (Baltimore was 10 of 16, Cleveland was 8 of 15) but the Browns had the upper hand on fourth down tries, Cleveland going 1 of 1, while the Ravens were 0 for 1. Baltimore ruled the clock in upstate Ohio, keeping the ball for 30:59 to Cleveland’s 29:01.

Jacksonville returns from their 2,339-mile trip along I-10 to San Diego after their 38-14 loss to the Chargers last Sunday on the West Coast. Although they trailed 35-0 at the end of three quarters of play, the Jaguars did manage to outscore San Diego in the final 15 minutes of play, scoring their only points of the contest in the process, as QB Blake Bortles (329 yards) connected for a pair of TD passes in the quarter, one to TE Marcedes Lewis and one to RB Corey Grant. Philip Rivers (220 yards) was a thorn in the paw of Jacksonville last Sunday at Qualcomm, throwing four TD passes in the win. San Diego’s Melvin Gordon led all rushers with 102 yards and a TD (San Diego ran for 150, while holding Jacksonville to 69) and San Diego’s defense forced three Jacksonville turnovers. San Diego on third down? 7 pf 13 and kept the ball for 34:52, while the Jaguars were 2 of 11 and 1 of 2 on third and fourh down tries and held on to the pigskin for 25:08.

The Jaguars lead the series 11-8, have outscored Baltimore 414-375 and Jacksonville won the last meeting between the clubs, a 22-20 win in Charm City last year (Baltimore’s last win over Jacksonville came the year before, also in Charm City by a final of 20-12). In that week 10 contest in Baltimore, Jacksonville trailed 14-10 at the half before rallying in the final 30 minutes of play for the road win. The Jaguars BARELY outrushed Baltimore 90-89 and Bortles was sacked three times, although he also threw a pair of TDs (Flacco threw three TDs but also threw a pair of picks). Baltimore went 8 of 14 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth down tries at M&T Bank Stadium and held on to the ball for 29:28, while Jacksonville went 4 of 16, winning the time of possession battle as well as the game, holding the ball for 30:32.

Baltimore’s favored by a point (even though they’re the road team) and the over/unders’ 47 1/2. Both offenses are good but they’re not great. Ravens cover the 1 and win in the Sunshine State.

Cleveland (0-2) at Miami (0-2), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 707. A pair of winless teams meet in the Sunshine State as Cleveland travels to Miami to face off agianst the Dolphins.

Cleveland let a 20-12 halftime lead against Baltimore get away from them as they fell to the Ravens 25-20. Cleveland outrushed Baltimore 145-80, with Isiah Crowell leading the way with 133 yards and a TD. Josh McCown, who took over for Robert Griffin III, did manage to throw for 260 yards and a pair of TDs but was sacked three times and picked off twice in the loss at home. Baltimore was 10 of 16 on third down tries, while Cleveland was 8 of 15 but the Browns had the upper hand on fourth down tries, Cleveland going 1 of 1, while the Ravens were 0 for 1 and the Ravens won the time of possession game,  keeping the ball for 30:59 to Cleveland’s 29:01.

Although the Dolphins lost 31-24 to New England in Foxboro last Sunday, they trailed 24-3 at the half before Pats QB Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder) got hurt in the contest. That was all the momentum Miami needed in the contest, as they would rally to make things a lot closer than Pats fans wanted as the Fins would outscore New England in the second half 21-7. New England’s LeGarrette Blount led all rushers with 123 of the Patriots’ 161, outrushing Miami, who wound up with 70 and Garoppolo would throw for 234 yards and three TDs without an interception before the injury. Both teams were 50 percent on third down conversions in Foxboro (Miami was 5 of 10, New England 7 of 13 and the Pats were 0 of 1 on fouth down tries) and the Pats ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 36:46 to Miami’s 23:14.

The series? Tied 8-8 and Cleveland has outscored Miami 311-292. Miami’s last win in the series came in 2013 in Cleveland by a 23-10 final, while Cleveland’s last win in the series also came in the Buckeye State by a final of 17-16 in 2011. Miami’s favored by 10 and the over/under is 41 1/2. The 41 1/2 makes a lot of sense. Miami as a 10 point favorite with an 0-2 record? Not so much. Cleveland can play decent football when they need to and they’ll make it closer than the 10 but Miami comes away with the win in the Sunshine State.

Oakland (1-1) at Tennessee (1-1), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 708. Oakland travels to the Volunteer State for a meeting with the Titans in the Music City.

The Raiders fell to 1-1 after their 35-28 loss to Atlanta on the West Coast last Sunday. After a scoreless 15 minutes of play, Atlanta would take a 13-7 lead to the locker room before the Raiders would take their only lead in the contest in the third quarter when TE Clive Walford and David Carr connected on a 31 yard pass with 11:17 left in the third. It would be the last that the Silver and Black would see the lead, as the Falcons went to work, outscoring Oakland 21-7 the rest of the contest. TE Jacob Tamme, along with WR Julio Jones and WR Justin Hardy each caught TD passes from Matt Ryan, who threw for 396 yards, while Carr tallied 299. Oakland did manage to outrush Atlanta 155-139 and picked off Ryan once in the game. Atlanta on third down went 5 of 10 and kept the ball for 27:15, while the Raiders controled the clock, holding the pigskin for 32:45 and went 5 of 12 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth.

Tennessee rallied in the Motor City, coming away 16-15 winners over the Lions in Detroit. The Titans trailed 12-3 at the break and outscored Detroit and Matthew Stafford (260 yards, TD, interception) 13-3 in the second half. Tennessee used an 13-play, 83-yard drive that lasted 5:51 and was completed when Marcus Mariotta and WR Arian Johnson connected on a 9-yard TD pass with 73 seconds left in regulation to give them the one-point lead and then would seal the deal when CB Perrish Cox picked off Stafford to end any Detroit threat. Tennessee outrushed Detroit 139-137 and Mariotta threw for 238 yards in the win. The Titans were 5 of 12 and 1 of 1 on third and fourth down, keeping the ball for 30:51, while the Lions were 7 of 16 on third down tries and kept the ball for 29:09.

Including games that were played in Houston when the Texans were known as the Oilers and the Raiders played their home games in Los Angeles, the Silver and Black hold a 24-20 lead in the series but Tennessee has outscored Oakland 1,040-993. The two clubs met last year in the Music City and Oakland came away 24-21 winners. (Tennessee’s last win over Oakland came in 2013 in Oakland by a final of 23-19.)

In the week 12 match up at Nissan Stadium, Oakland led 10-6 at the half and held off the Titans in the final 30 minutes of play, as Tennessee would outscore Oakland 15-14. It wasn’t much of a rushing contest in Nashville as neither club reached the 100-yard barrier but Oakland outrushed Tennessee 84-44 and Carr outpassed Mariotta 330-218 (both men had three TDs passes). The Silver and Black went 8 of 15 on third down and held the ball for 34:55, while Tennessee kept the pigskin for 25:05, going 3 of 12 (both Oakland and Tennessee were 0 of 1 on fourth down tries).

Tennessee’s a 1 1/2 point favorite and the over/under’s 47. You might want to take a pass on this one (unless you’re a fan of one of the teams) and watch that “NCIS” marathon on USA (there’s nothing like see Abby smack Tony on the head!) Titans send the Raiders home sad and take the win at home, covering the 1 1/2 in the process.

Arizona (1-1) at Buffalo (0-2), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 709. The Desert Angry Birds head east for a meeting with the winless Bills along the shores of Lake Erie.

The Desert Angry Birds took their frustrations out on Tampa Bay last Sunday in Glendale, taking a 40-7 win in the process. The Bucs were held to a third-quarter TD when QB Jameis Winston and WR Mike Evans connected on a 19-yard pass for their only tally in the loss. Leading 24-0 at the half, Arizona held Tampa Bay in check the rest of the contest and the Bucs could never get on track in the desert. Arizona outrushed Tampa Bay 101-85 in the contest and Winston was picked off four times, while throwing for 243 yards. Cardinals QB Carson Palmer outpaced Winston, throwing for 308 yards and three TDs, connecting with All-Pro WR Larry Fitzgerald once. Tampa Bay was 5 of 13 on third down tries (0 for 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 30:57, while the Cardinals were 6 of 14 on third down, keeping the ball for 29:03.

Buffalo saw a 7-6 first quarter lead get away from them as the New York Jets took a 37-31 win in Orchard Park. Trailing 20-10 at the half, Buffalo managed to outscore the Jets 21-17 in the second half but came up short last Thursday night. New York’s Matt Forte (3 TDs) ran for 100 of his team’s 123 yards, while the Jets’ defense held Buffalo to 86. Buffalo was 3 of 10 and 1 of 2 on third and fourth down tries, keeping the ball for 20:48, while the Jets held the pigskin for 39:12, going 8 of 13 on third down.

They’ve met 10 times and the Bills lead the series 6-4, outscoring the Cardinals 229-219 (which includes contests that took place when the Cardinals were in St. Louis). Their last meeting took place in 2012 in the desert and the Bills came away 19-16 overtime winners, while Arizona’s last win in the series also came in the desert, as the Desert Angry Birds were 41-17 winners in 2008. Arizona’s favored by 4 1/2 and the over/under’s 47. Both numbers make sense. Arizona comes away winners in this one along the shores of Lake Erie, although the Bills circle the wagons and make it closer than the 4 1/2.

Minnesota (2-0) at Carolina (1-1), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 710. It’s the battle of the banks as Minnesota travels to Charlotte to face off against the defending NFC champs in the Tar Heel State. It’s also a pair of Heisman QBs (Sam Bradford and Cam Newton) taking the field as well.

The Vikings opened U.S. Bank Stadium last Sunday night with a 17-14 victory over the division-rival Green Bay Packers. Making his first start with Minnesota, quarterback Sam Bradford passed for 286 yards and two touchdowns. Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs had nine catches for 182 yards and a touchdown in the win against Green Bay. Diggs has 285 receiving yards this season, the most by a Vikings player in the team’s first two games since 1969. Minnesota led 10-7 at the half before Green Bay rallied to pull closer to the Vikings. The Packers did manage to outrush the Purple Gang 83-30 and RB Adrian Peterson ran for only 19 yards before being knocked out of the contest with a knee injury. Peterson is expected to miss the rest of the 2016 season for the defending NFC North champs.

As far as third down conversions… not a lot to talk about. Green Bay? 6 of 13 (0 of 1 on fourth down). Minnesota? 4 of 14 (1 of 2 on fourth down). Time was on the side of the Vikings, who held the ball for 30:18, while Green Bay had it for 29:42.

The Panthers evened their record at 1-1 with a 46-27 win over San Francisco. Carolina has won 14 consecutive home games (including the postseason). In the victory over San Francisco, Carolina quarterback Cam Newton threw four touchdown passes, running back Fozzy Whitaker rushed for 100 yards and two Panthers – wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin (108 yards, two touchdowns) and tight end Greg Olsen (122 yards, one touchdown) – each had 100+ receiving yards and a TD. Carolina outrushed the 49ers 176-65 and forced three San Francisco turnovers at Bank of America Stadium.  The defending NFC champions were 7 of 15 on third down conversions and played keep-away with the ball from San Francisco, holding it hostage for 35:54, while the 49ers were 4 of 14 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth down tries, keeping the ball for 24:06.

Minnesota leads the series 7-5 and the Panthers have outscored Minnesota 244-214. Both team’s last wins in the series came in the Twin Cities; Carolina’s last win came in 2013 by a final of 35-10, Minnesota’s last win came in 2014, a 31-13 decision. Carolina’s favored by 7 and the over/under is 43. Carolina may not cover the 7 but the Panthers are finer in Carolina and comes away with the win.

Detroit (1-1) at (1-1) Green Bay, 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 711. A pair of NFC North rivals that don’t exactly like each other meet in the land of cheese, beer and Bratwurst as Green Bay and Aaron Rodgers return to the not-quite-frozen tundra of Lambeau Field to square off against Detroit.

Detroit fell to Tennessee 16-15 in the Motor City. The Lions led 12-3 at the break and Matthew Stafford (260 yards, TD, interception) were outscored 13-3 in the second half. Tennessee used an 13-play, 83-yard drive that lasted 5:51 and was completed when Marcus Mariotta and WR Arian Johnson connected on a 9-yard TD pass with 73 seconds left in regulation to give them the one-point lead and then would seal the deal when CB Perrish Cox picked off Stafford to end any Detroit threat. Tennessee outrushed Detroit 139-137 and Mariotta threw for 238 yards in the win. The Titans were 5 of 12 and 1 of 1 on third and fourth down, keeping the ball for 30:51, while the Lions were 7 of 16 on third down tries and kept the ball for 29:09.

The Packers are happy to return home to the land of beer, cheese and bratwurst. The two road games they have played this season have been the first road openers since 1924. Green Bay helped Minnesota open U.S. Bank Stadium last Sunday night for regular season play with a 17-14 loss over their  division-rivals. Sam Bradford made his first start for Minnesota, taking over for Teddy Bridgewater and passed for 286 yards and two touchdowns. Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs had nine catches for 182 yards and a touchdown in the win against Green Bay. Minnesota led 10-7 at the half before Green Bay rallied to pull closer to the Vikings. The Packers did manage to outrush the Purple Gang 83-30 and RB Adrian Peterson ran for only 19 yards before being knocked out of the contest with a knee injury. Peterson is expected to miss the rest of the 2016 season for the defending NFC North champs. Meanwhlle, Aaron Rodgers threw for 213 yards and a TD but was sacked five times and picked off once. Both clubs struggled on third down conversions; Green Bay was 6 of 13 (0 of 1 on fourth down), while Minnesota was 4 of 14 (1 of 2 on fourth down). Time was on the side of the Vikings, who held the ball for 30:18, while Green Bay had it for 29:42.

Green Bay leads the series 96-68-7 and have outscored Detorit, which includes games that were played in Detroit’s Tiger Stadium, the Silverdome and Milwaukee and have outscored the Lions 3,621-3,114. They spilt the two meetings in 2015 but both teams took wins in the other team’s stadium.

Meeting number one… Lambeau… week 10. Green Bay trailed Detroit 9-3 after three quarters of play before they rallied to pull within two and had a chance to win at home but fell short, losing to the Lions 18-16. Green Bay did outscore Detroit in the final 15 minutes of play and pulled to within two when TE Justin Perillo connected with Rodgers on a 11 yard TD pass with 32 seconds left. Green Bay then went for two and Detroit stopped them. With that, the Packers tried an onside kick and the Lions almost had the ball but WR Calvin Johnson funbled it and Green Bay’s Damarious Randall recovered the ball. With no timeouts left to their name, Rodgers marched his team down field, spiking the ball to stop the clock with eight seconds left. The Packers then lined up for what Green Bay fans though would be the game-winning field goal but Norm Crosby’s 52-yard attempt fell short of its intended mark, allowing Detroit to leave Lambeau with a win for the first time since the first Bush administration. The contest was
not much of a rushing battle, as neither club reached or came close to the 100-yard barrier but Green Bay did manage to outrush Detroit 47-45 and Rodgers outpassed Stafford 333-242, with each man throwing a pair of TDs. Both clubs also had their struggles with third down tries (Green Bay 9 of 19, Detroit 5 of 16 and 1 of 1 on fourth down) and Detroit ruled the clock, holding the ball for 30:40 to Green Bay’s 29:20.

That was round one.

Round two… Detroit… week 13. Green Bay overcame a 17-0 deficit at the half and pulled off a miracle in the final seconds to leave the Motor City 27-23 winners. In the second meeting, it was a Rodgers to Rodgers connection that sent Packers home happy when Aaron threw a “Hail Mary” pass into the endzone with :00 seconds left and TE Richard Rodgers caught the ball in the endzone for the win. Green Bay outscored Detroit 27-6 in the second half, although they were outrushed by the Lions 101-67. Like in the first meeting, Rodgers outpassed Stafford 273-200 and as was the case in the first meeting, each man threw a pair of TDs. As was the case in the week 10 contest, both Green Bay (3 of 12) and Detroit (6 of 16) struggled on third down but both hit paydirt on fourth down, each going 1 of 1 and once again, the Lions ruled the clock, keeping the ball for all of 33:04, while Green Bay kept it for 26:56.

The boys and girls in Vegas like the Packers as 7 1/2 point favorites in the land of cheese, beer and Bratwurst and the over/under in this contest is 48. Detroit is looking to repeat history. Green Bay is looking to stop them. The Packers will do that, even though this one will be closer than 7 1/2.

Washington (0-2) at New York Giants (2-0), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 712. A pair of NFC East rivals meet on the Jersey Shore as the defending NFC East champs travel to Met Life Stadium for a date with Eli Manning and the Giants.

The Redskins make the 226-mile, 3 and a half hour drive up I-95 after their 27-23 loss to Dallas last Sunday in Landover. Washington picked up their only lead of the game when Kirk Cousins and WR Jamison Crowder connected on an 11-yard TD toss early in the 3rd quarter. Washington trailed 13-10 at the intermission before taking the lead, only to see that lead get away from them. Dallas outrushed Washington 102-82, while rookie QB Dak Prescott (292 yards), taking over for Tony Romo (back) was sacked four times, while Cousins threw for 364 yards. Dallas was 6 of 12 on third down tries (1 of 1 on fourth down) and held the ball for 32:51, while the “Skins were 5 of 12 on third down, 0 of 1 on fourth down and kept the ball for 27:09.

The Giants took care of New Orleans 16-13 in the Meadowlands last Sunday. Although they led 7-3 at the half, New Orleans did manage to outscore Eli and the Giants in the second half 10-9, making the score closer than Giants or Saints fans would have liked. While rushing for a mere 64 yards, the Giants did hold New Orleans to 41 yards on the ground and Manning outpaced Drew Brees in passing 368-263, with each QB getting sacked twice. Third downs? New Orleans was 3 of 13 and the Saints kept the ball for 25:53, while the Giants ruled the clock, keeping the pigskin for 34:07, while going 7 of 15 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth down tries.

The series between these two rivals? New York has the edge, leading the series 97-65-4 (which includes contests that were played in Boston when the Redskins were known as the Boston Braves and the Giants played their home games in Yankee Stadium and the Yale Bowl) and the G-Men have outscored Washington 3,360-2,976. They met last year, split the series and each team took wins at home.

Round one… week three in the Meadowlands. New York opened the scoring, led from statt to finish, took a 15-6 lead into the halftime and came away 32-21 winners at Met Life Stadium. Although washington outrushed New York 88-84, Manning did burn the Redskins for 279 yards and a pair of TDs while Cousins was picked off twice. New York was 4 of 12 on third down tries (1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 31:30. As for Washington, they were 6 of 15 and 2 of 3 on third and fourth down, keeping the ball for 28:30.

Round two… week 12… Landover. The defending NFC East champs were fighting to make it into the post-season party and even with some last second drama by Odell Beckham Jr. catching a 21-yard TD pass from Manning with 4:57 left to play, it was Washington coming out on top 20-14. Washington led 17-0 after three quarters of play at FedEx Field before the Giants scored a pair of TDs in the final quarter to make things closer. As was the case in the first meeting on the Jersey Shores, Washington outrushed New York 105-33 (Alfred Morris led all rushers with 78 yards)and Manning found himself being sacked three times and picked off three times. Third down tries in the second meeting were not much to write home about. Washington was 4 of 15 (1 of 2 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 36 minutes, while the Giants were 3 of 15 third down-wise (2 of 2 on fourth down) and held on to the ball for 24 mintes.

Big Blue’s favored by 4 1/2 and the over/under’s 48 1/2. Even though the Redskins are struggling and the Giants find themselves at 2-0, they’re still rivals… that means’ this one’s “DRILL WORTHY!” (For those of you that know what The Drill is, you are excused. Everyone else, pay attention. We don’t want any rookie mistakes here, k?) After you go to the 9:30 mass on Sunday (the 4:30 vigil mass on Saturday counts as a mass attended, people! Don’t make us send the nuns after you! If we do, it is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OVER!), head to your favorite store (a trip to Wal Mart, Target, K-Mart or Costco counts) and get the vittles and the beverages (soda, beer, wine, coffee, et al… if you live in a state that allows the purchase of the items in question) and invite the co-workers, the neighbors (including that really cute kindergarden teacher that knows what to do with a cover-2 defense) and your cousin Connie (remember her? She’s the one that’s been married twice that’s just turned 57 last June and dates a 42-year old ex-Marine, who’s now a football coach at the high school in your town. She’s also the one that ate an entire Oreo cheesecake, two bags of Cool Ranch Doritos, two bacon cheeseburgers with blue cheese and chugged two 2-liter Cokes at your Super Bowl party last year and didn’t gain a pound. You look at her and say to yourself, “what the hell?”

Washington could make this one this one closer than 4 1/2 and they’ll knock the Giants out of the ranks of the unbeatens and take the win on the road.

San Francisco (1-1) at Seattle (1-1), 4:05 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 713. It’s wine country traveling up I-5 as San Francisco makes the 807-mile trek up the Pacific coast for an NFC West showdown with Seattle.

The 49ers did not have a good day in Charlotte last Sunday, losing 46-27 to Carolina. Carolina quarterback Cam Newton threw four touchdown passes, running back Fozzy Whitaker rushed for 100 yards and two Panthers – wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin (108 yards, two touchdowns) and tight end Greg Olsen (122 yards, one touchdown) – each had 100+ receiving yards and a TD. Carolina outrushed the 49ers 176-65 and forced three San Francisco turnovers at Bank of America Stadium. The defending NFC champions were 7 of 15 on third down conversions and played keep-away with the ball from San Francisco, holding it hostage for 35:54, while the 49ers were 4 of 14 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth down tries, keeping the ball for 24:06.

Meanwhile, it was an all-field goal contest in Tinsletown for the Rams and Seahawks as all the scoring came thanks in part to their field goal kickers. as Steven Hauschka connected on a 23 yard field goal in the second quarter after Los Angeles’ Greg Zuerlein opened the scoring with a 39 yard try in the first. Zuerlein would then add a pair of field goals to take the 9-3 win over Seattle in the Rams’ home opener. Seattle did manage to outrush the Rams 67-64 and Russell Wilson did manage to outpass Case Keenum 254-239 but neither had a TD and both were sacked a combined five times (Wilson twice, Keenum three times).

Third down tries? Los Angeles went 3 of 12, while the Seahawks were 4 of 13 and Seattle actually ruled the clock, holding the ball for 30:03 to the Rams’ 29:57.

Seattle leads the series 19-15, they’ve outscored San Francisco 796-606 and have come away winners in five of their last six meetings, including sweeping the series last year (San Francisco’s last win over Seattle came in San Francisco in 2013 by a final of 19-17 in the “What’s your Deal?” bowl, when Jim Harbaugh was at San Francisco against Pete Carroll.

Meeting one… week seven in Santa Clara. Seattle held San Francisco to a Pat Dawson field goal late in the third quarter for the 20-3 win. Marshawn Lynch was in “Beast mode,” rushing for 122 of Seattle’s 176, while the Seahawk defense held the 49ers and Colin Kaepernick to 61 yards and sacked him six times. WR Tyler Lockett and QB Russell Wilson (235 yards) connected on the other Seahawk TD, while Hauschka contributed with a pair of field goals. Third down conversions were not a thing of beauty in the first meeting, as Seattle was 5 of 13 (1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 38:05, while the 49ers were 1 of 11, keeping the ball for all of 21:55.

Meeting two… wee 11 in the land of grunge, Salmon and Starbucks. For Seattle, second verse, same as the first. this time, Seattle came away 29-13 winners at CenturyLink Field. Seattle led 20-7 at the half and never looked back, outscoring San Francisco 9-6 in the final 30 minutes. Thomas Rawls did his best Marshawn Lynch impersonation and ran for 209 and a TD in the lopsided affair in the Pacific Northwest (Seattle outrushed San Francisco 255-99), while Wilson threw for 260 yards and three TDs. Seattle in the second meeting did much better on third down tries, going 8 of 14 and kept the ball for 37:39, while the 49ers kept the pigskin for 22:21, going 2 of 11 on third down conversions.

Seattle’s favored by 9 1/2 and the over/under’s 40 1/2. Seattle makes six of seven wins in the series, even though San Francisco makes it a lot closer than the 9 1/2.

Los Angeles (1-1) at Tampa Bay (1-1), 4:05 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 714. A pair of 1-1’s take the stage in a late Sunday afternoon contest in the Sunshine State when the Rams take on Tampa Bay.

For the Rams, it was their first game in Los Angeles since 1994 and they made the most of it and it was an all-field goal contest in Tinsletown for the Rams and Seahawks as all the scoring came thanks in part to their field goal kickers. Greg Zuerlein opened the scoring with a 39 yard try in the first before Seattle’s Steven Hauschka tied the contest up, as he connected on a 23 yard field goal in the second quarter. Zuerlein would then add a pair of field goals to take the 9-3 win over Seattle in the Rams’ home opener. Seattle did manage to outrush the Rams 67-64 and Russell Wilson did manage to outpass Case Keenum 254-239 but neither had a TD and both were sacked a combined five times (Wilson twice, Keenum three times).

The Bucs were held to a third-quarter TD when QB Jameis Winston and WR Mike Evans connected on a 19-yard pass for their only tally in their 40-7 loss to Arizona last Sunday. Tampa Bay trailed 24-0 at the half and could never get on track in the desert. Arizona outrushed Tampa Bay 101-85 in the contest and Winston was picked off four times, while throwing for 243 yards. Cardinals QB Carson Palmer outpaced Winston, throwing for 308 yards and three TDs, connecting with All-Pro WR Larry Fitzgerald once. Tampa Bay was 5 of 13 on third down tries (0 for 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 30:57, while the Cardinals were 6 of 14 on third down, keeping the ball for 29:03.

Including contests that took place when the Rams were in Los Angeles before moving to St. Louis and then back to LA, the Rams lead the series 13-8, while outscoring Tampa Bay 493-419. Los Angeles has won the last four meetings and they met in 2015 in St. Louis and the Rams got away with a 31-23 win in the great indoors (Tampa Bay’s last win in the series came in 2010 in the Sunshine State by a final of 18-17). The Rams led 21-3 at the break before Tampa Bay rallied to make things closer than their fans wanted, outscoring St. Louis in the second half 20-10. Tampa Bay did outrush St. Louis 146-98 and Winston did outpass Keenum 363-234 but they turned the ball over twice in the Thursday night contest. Neither club did anything for their fan bases to be happy about on third down tries (Tampa Bay was 3 of 10 and 0 of 1 on fourth down; St. Louis was 2 of 1o) and in a twist of irony, the Bucs ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 31:20 to St. Louis’ 28:40.

Tampa Bay’s favored by 5 with a 42 over/under. We love LA, just not this week. Bucs win in the Sunshine State and cover the 5.

San Diego (1-1) at Indianapolis (0-2), 4:25 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 715. A pair of future Hall of Fame QBs meet in the Hoosier State as the Bolts make their way to Indianapolis for a late-afternoon meeting with the Colts.

In their 34-20 loss at Denver, the Broncos defense scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to close out the victory. Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib had a 46-yard interception-return touchdown – the ninth of his career, tied for the fourth-most in NFL history – and linebacker Shane Ray returned a fumble 15 yards for a TD after a sack and forced fumble by linebacker Von Miller. The Colts trailed 13-6 after the first 15 minutes of action and were outscored by Denver 21-14 the rest of the way. Trevor Semian threw for 266 yards, while Andrew Luck had 197 yards and a TD but was sacked five times, including the sack that caused the fumble and final Denver TD. The Broncos outrushed Indy 134-83 and went 5 of 11 on third down conversions, keeping the ball for 30:41, while the Colts held the pigskin for 29:19, while going 6 of 14 and 1 of 1 on third and fourth downs.

San Diego evened their 2016 campaign record after they took care of Jacksonville 38-14 last Sunday on the West Coast at Qualcomm. San Diego led 35-0 at the end of three quarters of play, before the Jaguars managed to outscore San Diego in the final 15 minutes of play, scoring their only points of the contest in the process, as QB Blake Bortles (329 yards) connected for a pair of TD passes in the quarter, one to TE Marcedes Lewis and one to RB Corey Grant. Philip Rivers (220 yards) was a thorn in the paw of Jacksonville last Sunday at Qualcomm, throwing four TD passes (one to All-Pro TE Antonio GateS) in the win. San Diego’s Melvin Gordon led all rushers with 102 yards and a TD (San Diego ran for 150, while holding Jacksonville to 69) and San Diego’s defense forced three Jacksonville turnovers. San Diego on third down? 7 pf 13 and kept the ball for 34:52, while the Jaguars were 2 of 11 and 1 of 2 on third and fourh down tries and held on to the pigskin for 25:08.

Including contests that were played when the Colts were in Baltimore, the Chargers lead the series 16-9 and San Diego leads in scoring 594-423. San Diego took a 19-9 win at home in 2013 for their last win in the series, while the Colts’ last win over the Chargers also came in San Diego, a 23-20 final in 2008.

Indy’s favored by 3 and the over/under’s 52. Both numbers make a lot of sense. At the end of the day, both teams will be 1-2. Colts win at home again in Indiana, covering the 3.

New York Jets (1-1) at Kansas City (1-1), 4:25 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 716. A pair of 1-1 teams meet in the Midwest as the Chiefs return to Arrown for a late afternoon meeting with the New York Jets.

GangGreen erased a 7-6 first quarter deficit against Buffalo in upstate New York and came away 37-31 winners in Orchard Park. Trailing 20-10 at the half, Buffalo managed to outscore the Jets 21-17 in the second half but came up short last Thursday night. New York’s Matt Forte (3 TDs) ran for 100 of his team’s 123 yards, while the Jets’ defense held Buffalo to 86. Buffalo was 3 of 10 and 1 of 2 on third and fourth down tries, keeping the ball for 20:48, while the Jets held the pigskin for 39:12, going 8 of 13 on third down.

Kansas City saw its 11-game regular season win streak come to an end at NRG Stadium, falling 19-12 to Houston last Sunday. The only TD in the contest was scored by Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins and QB Brock Osweiler, as they connected on for a 27-yard pass to open the scoring in the contest. After that, the kickers took the stage, as Houston’s Nick Novak and Kansas City’s Cairo Santos each kicked four field goals in the contest. The Chiefs did manage to outrush Houston 119-97, Osweiler did out pass Alex Smith 268-186, while the Texans defense sacked Smith four times. Kansas City turned the ball over three times in the loss and went 3 of 14 on third down tries and kept the ball for 26:01, while the Texans got a little measure of revenge for their playoff loss to Kansas City, going 4 of 15 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down and held the ball for 33:59.

The series is even at 17-17-1 and including contests that took place when the Chiefs were known as the Dallas Texans and the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! played their home games at Shea Stadium, Kansas City has outscored GangGreen 795-695. The last meeting too place in 2014 in Kansas City and the Chiefs came away 24-10 winners, while the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! last win took place in the Meadowlands in 2011 by a final of 37-10.

Kansas City’s favored by 3 and the over/under is 43. Both numbers make a lot of sense. Everything’s up to date in Kansas City and the Chiefs will start a new streak at home, covering the 3.

Pittsburgh (2-0) at Philadelphia (2-0), 4:25 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 717. A pair of 2-0’s meet in the City of Brotherly Love as Pittsburgh makes the 304-mile, 5-hour drive east to face the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Steelers defeated division-rival Cincinnati 24-16 in Week 2 to move to 2-0 on the season. Pittsburgh outrushed Cincinnati 124-46 and led 10-6 at the break. Andy Dalton threw for 366 yards, outpacing Ben Roethlisberger’s 259 in the loss and Cincinnati turned the ball over twice (2 fumbles). The winning Steelers went 7 of 17 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth downs, holding the ball for 32:55, while the Bengals kept it for 27:05, while on third and fourth downs, they were 4 of 16 and 1 of 1.

The Eagles, led by first-year head coach Doug Pederson and rookie quarterback Carson Wentz, improved to 2-0 with a 29-14 win at Chicago on Monday night. Pederson is only the second rookie head coach since 1970 to win his team’s first two games of a season by at least 15 points each. The other will be standing across the field from him on Sunday – Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin, who accomplished the feat in 2007. Wentz is the first rookie quarterback since the 1970 merger to start and win his team’s first two games without throwing an interception. For the season, Wentz has completed 43 of 71 passes (60.6 percent) for 468 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions for a 94.1 passer rating. Philadelphia led from start to finish at Soldier Field last Monday night, holding Chicago to 64 yards on the ground, while they rushed for 100 yards even. The Eagles, forcing three Chicago turnovers, went 3 of 15 on third downs but was perfect on fourth down tries (3 of 3) and kept the ball to themselves for 36:05, while Chicago kept the pigskin for 23:55, going 4 of 10 on third down, 0 of 1 on fourth.

Philly leads the series 46-28-3 and have outscored the Steelers 1,443-1,113. They last met in 2012 in the Steel City and Pittsburgh came away 16-14 winners, while Philly’s last win in the series came in 2008 in the city of Brotherly Love by a 15-6 final.

Pittsburgh’s favored by 5 1/2 and the over/under’s 46. The 304-mile trip east will be well worth it. Steelers win in Philly but expect the Eagles to make it closer than the 5 1/2.

Chicago (0-2) at Dallas (1-1), 8:30 p.m. on NBC. It’s Sunday night deep in the heart of Texas as the Tony Romo-less Cowboys come back home to Arlington for a meeting with Chicago at AT&T Stadium (aka JerryWorld).

Da Bears got manhadled by Philadelphia Monday night in the Windy City, taking a 29-14 loss in the process. Chicago and Jay Cutler turned the ball over three times and were held to 64 yards on the ground, while the Eagles ran for 100. Philadelphia kept the ball for 36:05 and went 3 of 15 on third down, 1-1 on fourth, while Da Bears were 4 of 11 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth down conversions, keeping the pigskin for 23:55.

Dallas earned its first win of 2016 with a 27-23 road victory at Washington. In the win over the Redskins, rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott each rushed for a touchdown. Prescott has 75 pass attempts and no interceptions, the most pass attempts without an interception in a player’s first two NFL games in league history. Washington picked up their only lead of the game when Kirk Cousins and WR Jamison Crowder connected on an 11-yard TD toss early in the 3rd quarter. Washington trailed 13-10 at the intermission before taking the lead, only to see that lead get away from them. Dallas outrushed Washington 102-82, while rookie QB Dak Prescott (292 yards), taking over for Tony Romo (back) was sacked four times, while Cousins threw for 364 yards. Dallas was 6 of 12 on third down tries (1 of 1 on fourth down) and held the ball for 32:51, while the “Skins were 5 of 12 on third down, 0 of 1 on fourth down and kept the ball for 27:09

Dallas leads the series 12-11 and the team once known as America’s Team leads Chicago in scoring 476-456. The Cowboys wone the last meeting in 2014 in the Windy City 41-28, while Da Bears’ last win in the series also came in the Windy City by a final of 45-28 in 2013.

Dallas is favored on the Sunday night telecast in the Lone Star State by 4 1/2 and the over/under is 46 1/2. Both numbers make some sense. This might be the time to watch that “Mythbusters” marathon on the Science Channel (unless you’re a fan of either team). Da Bears break out of their hibernation and shock the Cowboys deep in the heart of Texas.

ATLANTA (1-1) at New Orleans (0-2), 8:30 p.m. Monday on ESPN. Week three conculdes in the Bayou as a pair of NFC South rivals meet in the Big Easy. The Saints will host the Falcons at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Monday night, September 26. The game will commemorate the 10th anniversary of the reopening of the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina when New Orleans – sparked by Steve Gleason’s blocked punt that resulted in a touchdown – defeated Atlanta 23-3 on Monday night, September 25, 2006.

Atlanta improved to 1-1 with a 35-28 victory at Oakland in Week two. After a scoreless 15 minutes of play, Atlanta would take a 13-7 lead to the locker room before the Raiders would take their only lead in the contest in the third quarter when TE Clive Walford and David Carr connected on a 31 yard pass with 11:17 left in the third. It would be the last that the Silver and Black would see the lead, as the vistors went to work, outscoring the Raiders 21-7 the rest of the contest. Matt Ryan connected with TE Jacob Tamme, WR Julio Jones and WR Justin Hardy on TD passes in the win on the West Coast. (Ryan threw for 396 yards, while Carr tallied 299.) Although they were outrushed by Oakland 155-139 and Ryan was picked off once, the Falcons did well on third down tries, going 5 of 10 and keeping the ball for 27:15, while the Raiders controled the clock, holding the pigskin for 32:45 and went 5 of 12 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth.

New Orleans took a 16-13 loss to the New York Giants in the Meadowlands last Sunday. Although they trailed 7-3 at the half, New Orleans did manage to outscore Eli and the Giants in the second half 10-9, making the score closer than Giants or Saints fans would have liked. While rushing for a mere 64 yards, the Giants did hold New Orleans to 41 yards on the ground and Manning outpaced Drew Brees in passing 368-263, with each QB getting sacked twice. New Orleans on third down? 3 of 13 and the Saints kept the ball for 25:53, while the Giants ruled the clock, keeping the pigskin for 34:07, while going 7 of 15 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth down tries.

Atlanta leads the series 48-45 and have outscored New Orleans 2,030-1,921 but… New Orleans won the last two meetings, sweeping the series in 2015 after the Falcons did the deed in 2014.

Meeting number one… the Big Easy in a Thursday night affair in the Superdome to open week six. DeVonta Freeman led all rushers with 100 of Atlanta’s 150 yards but the Saints came away 31-21 winners. Brees outpaced Ryan in passing yardage 312-295 but Ryan did manage to throw a pair of TD passes, connecting with Freeman and WR Roddy White. The Saints were 50 percent on third down tries at 8 of 16 (1 of 1 on fourth down) and held the ball for 32:30, while Atlanta kept the pigskin for 27:30, going 3 of 12 and 3 of 4 on third and fourth downs.

That was game one.

Game two… the Big Peach in week 17 and while Atlanta had hopes for the post-season, New Orleans looked to crash the Falcons’ party and they did just that, erasing a 17-14 lead at the half, coming away 20-17 winners. The Saints would score their final six points of the contest unchallenged thanks to a pair of Kai Forbath field goals, the last coming in the fourth quarter as time expired. Atlanta once again outrushed New Orleans but in the second meeting, neither club reached the 100-yard barrier (Atlanta had 87, while the Saints had 67) and Ryan (334 yards, 2 TDS) outpaced Brees (323 yards, TD) and the Saints forced a pair of Atlanta tunrovers in the Georgia Dome. This time around, with everything on the line, both teams did quite well on third down conversions (Atlanta was 8 of 12, while the Saints were 6 of 10 and 0 of 2 on fourth downs) and Atlanta ruled the clock, holding on to the ball for 30:26, while New Orleans kept it for 29:34.

The Saints are favored by 2 1/2 and the over/under’s 53 1/2. Ten years ago, the Superdome reopened after almost being blown off the face of the Earth by Katrina. Ten years ago, New Orleans beat Atlanta in the Superdome on a Monday night. Atlanta gets their revenge and takes this one in the Big Easy, covering the 2 1/2.