Archives for posts with tag: San Francsico 49ers

You know who your team was going to play.

You know where your team was going to play.

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

Last Thursday night, your wait was over, thanks to the National Football League. The league announced its 17-week, 256-game regular-season schedule for 2017, which kicks off on Thursday night, September 7 in New England and concludes on Sunday, December 31 with 16 division games.

The season begins with the NFL’s annual primetime kickoff game. The opener on September 7 on NBC at 8:30 p.m. in Foxboro will spotlight the defending champion New England Patriots hosting the Kansas City Chiefs at Gillette Stadium.

Week 1 is a FOX national weekend with the key doubleheader game on Sunday, September 10 at 4:25 p.m. when salmon and Starbucks travels to the land of beer, cheese and bratwurst as Seattle takes on Green Bay at Lambeau Field. Week 3 is the first CBS national weekend with the key doubleheader game showcasing the Cincinnati Bengals facing the Packers at Lambeau Field.

NBC’s Sunday Night Football gets underway on September 10 when NFC East foes Dallas and the New York Giants square off at 8:30 p.m. in the Lone Star State at AT&T Stadium.

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

ESPN will televise one game each Monday night in Weeks 2-16. There will be no Monday night game on the final regular-season weekend (Week 17) to provide more flexibility for the scheduling of the opening weekend of the NFL playoffs.

The league will have a select number of games that will be “cross-flexed,” moving between CBS and FOX to bring potentially under-distributed games to wider audiences. Some of those contests were announced as well, including the Seahawks at the Giants in the Meadowlands at 4:25 p.m. on CBS in Week 7 and the Vikings traveling to the Tar Heel State for a meeting with Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers at 1 p.m. on CBS in Week 14. Other “cross-flexed” games will be decided during the season.

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

Other contests include…

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

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

Will there be football on Thanksgiving?

Is the Pope Catholic?

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

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

There are contests with an international flavor, so break out the fish and chips and tequila! The NFL’s international slate includes four games in London – the first time the league will play four games in the United Kingdom and one in Mexico City. On Sunday, September 24, the Jacksonville Jaguars will host the Baltimore Ravens at London’s Wembley Stadium at 9:30 a.m. with distribution to be announced at a later date(set those VCRs NOW!).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEEK 1 (Byes: NONE)

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

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

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

WEEK 2 (Byes: NONE)

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

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

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

WEEK 3 (Byes: NONE)

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

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

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

WEEK 4 (Byes: NONE)

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 8

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEEK 7 (Byes: Detroit and Houston)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEEK 12 (Byes: NONE)

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

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

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

WEEK 13 (Byes: NONE)

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

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

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

WEEK 14 (Byes: NONE)

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

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

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

WEEK 15 (Byes: NONE)

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

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

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

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

WEEK 16 (Byes: NONE)

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

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

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

WEEK 17 (Byes: NONE)

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

 

 

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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.

One week down, 16 to go.

If week one was good, week two hopes to be better.

SO CLOSE: If you like close contests, then week one was for you.

Kickoff Weekend featured exciting finishes and close games:

•Eleven of the 16 games in Week 1 were decided by seven points or fewer. Fourteen of the 16 games (87.5 percent) were within one score in the fourth quarter.

•Six games in Week 1 were decided by two points or fewer, the most of any week in NFL history.

•Four games were decided by one point – Denver 21, Carolina 20; Cincinnati 23, New York Jets 22; Oakland 35, New Orleans 34; New York Giants 20, Dallas 19 – marking the first time in NFL history that four games have been decided by exactly one point on Kickoff Weekend.

•Nine teams – Cincinnati, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Kansas City, New England, New York Giants, Oakland and Seattle –  won when trailing in the fourth quarter this week, the most in a single week since Week 3, 2011 (10 wins).

Kickoff Weekend continued the 2015 trend of close games, as 75 percent were within one score in the fourth quarter of Kickoff Weekend last season. In 2015, 140 of 256 games (54.7 percent) were decided by eight points or fewer, the most of any season in NFL history.

NO NEED TO PANIC: At the end of Week 2, no more than 13 teams will be able to claim a perfect 2-0 record, leaving at least 19 clubs at 1-1 or 0-2.

Since realignment in 2002, 100 of the 168 playoff teams (59.5 percent) began the year at either 1-1 or 0-2, including six teams last season and three division champions – Houston (AFC South), Minnesota (NFC North) and Washington (NFC East).

DOMINANT DREW: New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees has 61,326 career passing yards, the fourth-most in NFL history. With 36 passing yards on Sunday at the New York Giants, Brees will surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Marino (61,361) for the third-most passing yards all-time.

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)
Dan Marino, 1983-1999 (61,361)
Drew Brees, 2001-present (61,326)
Tom Brady, 2000-present (58,028)

Brees, who passed for 423 yards on Kickoff Weekend, has 14 career games with at least 400 passing yards, tied with PEYTON MANNING for the most 400-yard passing performances in NFL history.

The players with the most 400-yard passing games in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAM(S) (MOST 400-YARD PASSING GAMES)
Peyton Manning – Indianapolis and Denver (14)
Drew Brees – San Diego and New Orleans (14)
Dan Marino – Miami (13)
Carson Palmer – Cincinnati, Oakland and Arizona (8)
Philip Rivers – San Diego (8)
Ben Roethlisberger – Pittsburgh (8)

ELITE ELI: New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning has 297 touchdown passes in his 13-year career. With three touchdown passes on Sunday against New Orleans, Manning would become the eighth quarterback in NFL history to reach 300 career touchdown passes.

The quarterbacks with at least 300 career touchdown passes:

PLAYER (YEARS, TEAM(S); CAREER TOUCHDOWN PASSES)
Peyton Manning (1998-2015, Indianapolis and Denver; 539)
Brett Favre (1991-2010, Atlanta, Green Bay, New York Jets and Minnesota; 508)
Drew Brees (2001-present, San Diego and New Orleans; 432)
Tom Brady (2000-present (New England; 428)
Dan Marino (1983-1999, Miami; 420)
Fran Tarkenton (1961-1978, Minnesota and New York Giants; 342)
John Elway (1983-1998, Denver; 300)
Eli Manning (2004-present, New York Giants 297)

WENTZ’S WONDERFUL START: Philadelphia rookie quarterback Carson Wentz passed for 278 yards and two touchdowns in the Eagles’ 29-10 victory against Cleveland on Kickoff Weekend.

Only four rookie quarterbacks since 1970 have won their first two starts to begin a season. Three of those four players helped their teams qualify for the playoffs, including Joe Flacco of Baltimore (2008) and Mark Sanchez of the New York Jets (2009), who led their respective clubs to the AFC Championship Game as rookies.

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 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 (1-0, ???)*

* 1-0 as starter

BOOMING BECKHAM: New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. has 191 receptions in 28 career games.

With nine receptions on Sunday against New Orleans, Beckham would surpass Miami wide receiver Jarvis LandryY (33 games) as the fastest player in NFL history to reach 200 career receptions.

Landry accomplished the feat last week against Seattle.

The players to reach 200 career receptions in the fewest games:

PLAYER – GAMES TO REACH 200 CAREER RECEPTIONS
Tom Fears – 36
Lionel Taylor – 36
Keenan Allen – 35
Jarvis Landry – 33
Anquan Boldin – 34
Reggie Bush – 34
Odell Beckham, Jr. – 28*
*191 career receptions

KICKOFF NOTES: A look at some team notes from across the league on Kickoff Weekend 2016:

•Denver defeated the Carolina Panthers 21-20 on Thursday night. The defending Super Bowl champs improved their record to 43-13-1 (.768) in home openers, the top mark in the NFL. Denver has won 23 of its past 26 home openers.

The teams with the best winning percentage in home openers:

TEAM (RECORD IN HOME OPENERS, WIN PCT.)
Denver (43-13-1, .768)
Chicago (65-27-4, .707)
Miami (34-15-1, .694)
Dallas (38-18-1, .679)
Oakland (37-18-1, .670)
Note: Ties prior to 1972 did not count in winning percentage.

•Green Bay defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 27-23 on Kickoff Weekend at EverBank Field. The Packers have 55 wins in road openers, the most in NFL history. The Packers’ .585 winning percentage in openers on the road is the second-best mark in NFL history.

•New England, who defeated the Arizona Cardinals 23-21 on Sunday Night Football, now has 32 wins on Kickoff Weekend, tied with San Diego for the fourth-most among AFC teams.

•Denver’s Gary Kubiak (7-3) has a six-game winning streak on Kickoff Weekend, the longest current streak among active head coaches.

•Tampa Bay’s Dirk Koetter (31-24 vs. Atlanta), the New York Giants’ Ben McAdoo (20-19 vs. Dallas) and Philadelphia’s Doug Pederson (29-10 vs. Cleveland) all won in their Kickoff Weekend debuts.

START ‘EM EARLY: Philadelphia rookie quarterback Carson, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, led the Eagles to a 29-10 victory over Cleveland on Kickoff Weekend. Dallas rookie quarterback Dak Prescott, who was chosen in the fourth round (No. 135 overall), also started in Week 1.

The NFL has now had at least one rookie quarterback start in Week 1 in nine consecutive seasons, the longest streak since at least 1950.

The rookie quarterbacks to start in Week 1 since 2008:

SEASON – QUARTERBACK, TEAM (STARTING RECORD AS ROOKIE)

2008 – Joe Flacco, Baltimore (11-5)
2008 – Matt Ryan, Atlanta (11-5)
2009 – Mark Sanchez, New York Jets (8-7)
2009 – Matthew Stafford, Detroit (2-8)*
2010 – Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams (7-9)*
2011 – Andy Dalton, Cincinnati (9-7)
2011 – Cam Newton, Carolina (6-10)*
2012 – Robert Griffin III, Washington (9-6)
2012 – Andrew Luck, Indianapolis (11-5)*
2012 – Ryan Tannehill, Miami (7-9)
2012 – Brandon Weeden, Cleveland (5-10)
2012 – Russell Wilson, Seattle (11-5)
2013 – EJ Manuel, Buffalo (4-6)
2013 – Geno Smith, New York Jets (8-8)
2014 – Derek Carr, Oakland (3-13)
2015 – Marcus Mariota, Tennessee (3-13)
2015 – Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay (6-10)*
2016 – Dak Prescott, Dallas (0-1)
2016 – Carson Wentz, Philadelphia (1-0)

*No. 1 Overall Pick

COOL BREES: New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees passed for 423 yards and four touchdowns against Oakland on Kickoff Weekend. The performance marked Brees’ 14th career 400-yard passing game, tying Peyton Manning for the most in NFL history.

Brees also increased his Week 1 career passing yards total to 4,306, becoming the second QB with at least 4,000 passing yards in Week 1 games (Manning, 4,736).

Brees threw a 98-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Brandin Cooks, the fifth touchdown pass of at least 98 yards on Kickoff Weekend in NFL history. The other four quarterbacks to throw a 98+ yard touchdown pass on Kickoff Weekend? You might know some of these names. They’re either in the Hall of Fame or will be. They are: George Izo (99 yards, September 15, 1963), Sonny Jurgensen (99 yards, September 15, 1968), Tom Brady (99 yards, September 12, 2011) and Earl Morrall (98 yards, September 11, 1966).

FAST LUCK: Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck passed for 385 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions for a 119.5 passer rating in the Colts’ Kickoff Weekend game against Detroit.

Luck has 15,223 career passing yards and reached 15,000 passing yards in his 56th career game, tied for the second-fastest in NFL history. Matthew Stafford accomplished the feat in his 53rd game while Marc Bulger, Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Marino and Kurt Warner reached 15,000 passing yards in their 56th game.

FANTASTIC FITZ: Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald had eight receptions for 81 yards and two touchdowns in the Cardinals’ Kickoff Weekend matchup against New England.

Fitzgerald, who now has 100 career touchdown receptions, became the 10th player in NFL history to reach the milestone.

AMAZING ANDRE: Tennessee wide receiver Andre Johnson had three receptions in the Titans’ opener against Minnesota. Johnson now has 83 catches in 14 career Week 1 games, surpassing Marvin Harrison (81), Reggie Wayne (81) and Andre Reed (82) to move into second place all-time.

Jerry Rice has the most career Week 1 catches with 92. Rice, Reed and Harrison are all members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

FIRST-ROUND FULLER: Houston wide receiver Will Fuller had five catches for 107 yards in the Texans’ 23-14 victory against Chicago. Fuller, who was selected 21st overall in the 2016 NFL Draft, became the first rookie first-round draft pick to gain 100 yards receiving in his team’s first game since Pittsburgh’s Louis Lipp in 1984.

The NFL got “Back to Football” with a thrilling Kickoff Weekend, highlighted by close games and comeback victories.

In Week 1, six games were decided by two points or fewer, the most such games in any week in NFL history. There were four games decided by exactly one point, the most ever on Kickoff Weekend.

Oakland notched a one-point victory (35-34) at New Orleans when the Raiders converted a go-ahead two-point conversion with 47 seconds remaining. They became the fourth team to score the game-winning points on a two-point conversion in the final minute of the fourth quarter and the first to do so in a season opener.

“I was thinking that we’re here to win, so let’s win it right now,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio explained to KNBR after the game.

GAMES DECIDED BY ONE POINT (Home teams in CAPS)
DENVER 21, Carolina 20
Cincinnati 23, NEW YORK JETS 22
Oakland 35, NEW ORLEANS 34
New York Giants 20, DALLAS 10

GAMES DECIDED BY TWO POINTS (Home teams in CAPS)
SEATTLE 12, Miami 10
New England 23, ARIZONA 21

There were nine fourth-quarter comeback wins in the opening week, the most Week 1 fourth-quarter comeback victories in NFL history. And, for the first time ever on Kickoff Weekend, eight teams trailed at the end of the first quarter and went on to win the game.

The Kansas City Chiefs overcame a 21-point deficit to defeat San Diego 33-27 in overtime, the largest comeback victory in franchise history. The Chiefs have won 11 consecutive regular-season games and are the first team in NFL history to extend a winning streak of at least 10 games with a comeback victory of 21 or more points.

“It’s pretty sweet,” says Kansas City head coach Andy Reid about the comeback victory. “When you come back in the National Football League from three scores down and win, that’s pretty nice.”

Everybody wants to get off to a good start as history has shown that teams that are victorious in their season openers are more than twice as likely to reach the playoffs than losers of an opening game. But that doesn’t mean an 0-1 start is impossible to overcome as nearly 25 percent of teams that lost the opener went to the playoffs.

Since 1978 when the NFL went to the 16-game schedule (and excluding the abbreviated season of 1982):

Of the 554 teams which won openers… 288 went to the playoffs (173 won division titles)

Of the 555 teams which lost openers… 134 went to the playoffs (77 won division titles)

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

Week 2 kicked off with Thursday Night Football presented by Bud Light as the New York Jets visited and beat the Buffalo Bills in an AFC East showdown. The game marked the debut of the “Tri-Cast” distribution model of broadcast, cable (NFL Network) and digital (Twitter) which will be used for 10 Thursday Night Football games this season. CBS and NBC will each broadcast five Thursday Night Football games which will be simulcast on NFL Network and streamed to a global audience across devices for free on Twitter.

On Sunday afternoon, NFL football returns to Los Angeles for the first time since 1994 as the Rams host the Seattle Seahawks in their regular-season home opener at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum at 4:05 p.m. on FOX. And that night in primetime at 8:30 p.m. on NBC, the Minnesota Vikings will open their new home – U.S. Bank Stadium – when they host the NFC North rival Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football.

In case you’re wondering, we went 11-5 on picks in week one. Not a bad start but it could have been better.

Here’s a look at Sunday and Monday’s games in week 2…

ATLANTA (0-1) at Oakland (1-0), 4:25 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 716. Atlanta makes their way to the West Coast for a late afternoon (Eastern) meeting with the Raiders.

The Falcons limp into Oakland on the short end of a 31-24 loss to Tampa Bay last Sunday in the Big Peach. Atlanta trailed 17-13 at the half and rallied to make the contest closer but could come no further. Matt Ryan did throw for 334 yards and a pair of TDs, including one to WR Julio Jones (WR Mohamed Sanu had the other one). Ryan recorded franchise-leading 36th 300+ yard game in Week 1 and is aiming for his third win in a row against the Raiders with 200+ pass yards and a TD. Tampa Bay did manage to outrush the Falcons 90-52 and sacked Ryan three times, holding the Falcons off in a final drive that could have either tied the contest or given Atlanta the win. The Falcons were 3 of 13 on third down tries (1 of 2 on fourth down) and held on to the ball for 32:23, while the Bucs, led by Jameis Winston’s 281 passing yards (4 TDs), went 3 of 10 on third down, keeping the ball for 27:37.

Oakland, on the other hand, is coming off a hard-earned 35-34 win over New Orleans in the Big Easy. QB Derek Carr passed for 319 yards and TD last week, while throwing the game-winning 2-point conversion to WR Michael Crabtree with 47 seconds left in regulation. The Raiders are 4th team to score GW points on 2-point conversion in the final minute. Oakland trailed 17-10 at the half before they rallied in the final 30 minutes of play, outscoring the Saints 25-17 in the second half. Although Drew Brees threw for four TDs in the contest, Oakland did manage to outrush the Saints 167-88. Both teams were 4 of 11 on third down conversions (New Orleans was 1 of 1 on fourth down) and Oakland ruled the clock, holding the ball for 30:25 to New Orleans’ 29:35.

The Silver and Black may lead the series 7-6, they may have outscored Atlanta 332-292 (which includes games that took place in Los Angeles and at old Fulton County Stadium) but the Falcons have won the last three contests, including a 23-20 win in the Big Peach in 2012. Oakland’s last win in the series came in 2000 on the Left Coast by a 41-14 final.

Oakland’s favored by 4 1/2 and the over/under is 48 1/2. Oakland’s looking to go 2-0, while the Falcons want to keep as close to Tampa Bay in the NFC South. Something’s got to give here. Falcons rise up and take this one on the road and could cover the 4 1/2.

Baltimore (1-0) at Cleveland (0-1), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 705. Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens travel to upstate Ohio for a AFC North contest in Cleveland.

Baltimore held Buffalo to a 1 yard TD run from McCoy as they defeated the Bills. 13-7 in Charm City last Sunday. Mike Wallace and Joe Flacco connected for the Ravens’ lone TD in the contest that made it 10-0 early in the first half. Neither club breached the 100-yard plateau and that was the bad news. The good news? Baltimore did outrush Buffalo 83-65 and Flacco did outpace Tyrod Taylor 258-11, although the Bills did manage to sack him four times at M&T Bank Stadium.l Buffalo was 3 of 13 on third down tries in Charm City (they were 2 of 2 on fourth down) and held on to the ball for 27:07, while the Ravens went 6 of 15 on third down and kept the pigskin for 32:53, going 0 for 1 on their only fourth down attempt.

For the Browns, QB Josh McCown takes over for Robert Griffin III (shoulder). McCown has won 2 of 3 career starts vs. Baltimore and has 4 pass TDs vs. 0 interceptions. Cleveland comes back home after they were taken to the woodshed by the Eagles 29-10 in Philly. Philadelphia outrushed the Browns in the season opener 133-120 and Griffin threw for 190 yards before his injury (he was sacked three times in the contest). Philadelphia held on to the ball for 39:20, while the Browns kept it for 20:40.

The Ravens lead the series 25-9 and have outscored the Browns 788-515 in the 34 meetings. The two teams met twice, split the series, with each winning in the other team’s stadium.

M&T Bank Stadium, week five… Baltimore. The Ravens led 21-16 after 45 minutes of play before the Browns rallied in the final period, scoring their final ten points of the contest when McCown and WR Isaiah Crowell connected on a 22-yard TD pass with 3:03 left in regulation and winning in overtime when Travis Coons connected on a 32-yard field goal to take the road win. Baltimore’s Josh Forsett ran for 121 of his team’s 181 yards, holding Cleveland to 83 and the Ravens defense sacked McCown four times in Charm City. Cleveland went 12 of 19 on third down conversions in the first meeting, holding the ball for 39:16, while the Ravens were 5 of 14 and kept the ball for 29:01.

Round 2… week 12 in Cleveland on a Monday night and it was another close contest. This time, the Ravens prevailed 33-27. Baltimore led 17-13 at the half and outscored the Browns 16-14 in the final 30 minutes of play. The end of the contest was one of the strangest endings in the history of Monday Night Football as Cleveland’s Jeff Tucker tried a 51-yard field goal that would have given them the win. The kick was blocked and Ravens S Will Hill III picked up the ball and ran it back 64 yards for the winning score as time expired. Baltimore outrushed Cleveland again in the second meeting, tallying 104 yards on the ground to the Browns’ 63, although Cleveland did manage to pick off Matt Schaub (who was in for Flacco) twice. Both teams did well on fourth down tries, going 2 of 2. It was third down tries that both clubs struggled with, as the Ravens were 2 of 11 and the Browns were 4 of 15. In a twist of irony, the Browns ruled the clock, holding the ball for 30:30, while Baltimore kept it for 29:30.

The Ravens may be the road team but the boys and girls in Vegas like them as 6 1/2 point favorites with a 42 1/2 over/under. Both numbers make sense. Cleveland makes this one interesting but Baltimore comes away with the win, even though they may not cover the 6 1/2.

Tennessee (0-1) at Detroit (1-0), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 706. The Detroit Lions return to the Motor City to face a Tennessee Titans team that looks to even their record at Ford Field.

Tennessee let a 10-0 lead against Minnesota get away from them as the Vikings, without Teddy Bridgewater, outscored the Titans 25-6 in the last 30 minutes of action to fall 25-16 in Nashville. The contest was not exactly a ground game battle as neither club came close to the 100-yard barrier (Minnesota could only tally 65 yards on the ground, while Tennessee could muster only 64). Marcus Mariota did manage to outpass Bridgewater’s replacement, Sean Hill, with 271 yards and a pair of TDs (Hill had 236 in the air for the Vikings) in the season opener for both clubs.

Detroit trailed Indy 35-34 with 37 seconds left in regulation when Colt QB Andrew Luck and TE Jack Doyle had connected on a 6 yard TD pass that gave them the lead briefly as Detroit got the ball back and Matt Prater connected on a 43 yard field goal with four seconds left. Indy would later see insult added to injury on the kickoff when they got the ball back and tried several lateral passes to move the ball and keep the contest going. T.Y. Hilton threw what he thought was a forward pass from the end zone but the officials saw it differntly, calling it an illegal pass, which meant a safety for the Lions, who took the 39-35 win in the Hoosier State. Detroit outrushed Indy 116-82 but Luck (4 TDs) did manage to outpass Matthew Stafford (3 TDs) 385 to 340.  Both teams did well on third down tries (Indianapolis was 9 of 16, Detroit was 5 of 9) and the Lions ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 30:36 to Indy’s 29:24.

Including contests that were played in Houston when the team was known as the Oilers, Tenneseee leads the series 8-3, have outscored Detroit 289-250 and have taken wins in the last four contests, including a 44-41 overtime win in the Music City. Detroit’s last win over Tennessee? 1995, when they won in Houston by a final of 24-17.

Detroit’s favored by 6 and the over/under’s 47 1/2. If you’re a fan of either team, by all means watch. Otherwise, you might want to watch that “NCIS: LA” marathon on USA. Detroit does their best Katy Perry impression and “ROARS” their way to the win at home, covering the 6.

Kansas City (1-0) at Houston (1-0), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 707. It’s an AFC Wild Card rematch in the Lone Star State as Kansas City takes on the Houston Texans.

The Chiefs are on an 11-game regular season win streak and they are the 1st team to extend 10+ game win streak w/ 21+ point comeback victory. Kansas City trailed 21-3 at the half at home against San Diego and rallied to take a 33-27 overtime win over the Chargers. The Chiefs took care of business in the second half and overtime, outscoring the Philip Rivers-led Chargers 30-6 in the last three periods for the win over their AFC West rivals. Although they were outrushed by San Diego 155-83, Alex Smith did manage to outpass Rivers 363-243, while throwing a pair of TD passes and scoring the game-winner in overtime from two yards out. Kansas City was 5 of 14 on third down tries at Arrowhead (2 of 2 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 31:06 (including the overtime), while the Bolts went 7 of 15, keeping the ball for 34:01.

Houston had a little problem with Chicago last Sunday but managed to come away 23-14 winners last Sunday in the Lone Star State. Houston trailed 14-10 at the half before the Texans went on to shut Chicago, who was held to 73 yards rushing, out in the second half. J.J. Watt and the Texans’ defense made life for Jay Cutler miserable, sacking him five times in the 9-point win and Houston’s Lamar Miller led all rushers with 106 of the Texans’ 129 yards, while Brock Osweiler (231 yards) threw a pair of TDs, although he was sacked twice. Chicago was 4 of 13 and 0 of 2 on third and fourth down tries and kept the ball for 23:41, while the Texans kept the pigskin for 36:19, going 12 of 20 on third downs.

Kansas City holds a 4-3 lead in the series and have outscored 186-146. They met twice in the 2015 campaign, once in the regular season and once in the postseason and both contests took place in Houston.

Week one… the Chiefs held off a late Houston rally in the season opener for both clubs, with Kansas City coming out on top 27-20. Although they led 27-9 at the half, the Texans would go on to shutout Kansas City 11-0 in the last 30 minutes of action to make things close. The first contest was not much of a rushing contest, with neither club breaking the 100-yard barrier (Houston did outrush Kansas City 98-97) and the Kansas City defense made things miserable for Houston QB Blaine Hoyer, who was sacked four times. Neither club did much on third down tries in that first meeting; Kansas City was 3 of 13, Houston was 3 of 14 (0 of 1 on fourth down) and the Chiefs owned the clock, keeping the ball for 35:19 to Houston’s 24:41.

The second meeting… in the Lone Star State. The AFC Wild Card game at NRG Stadium. Kansas City took a 13-0 halftime lead in the Lone Star State and came away 30-0 winners over the Texans. Although Smith and Blaine Hoyer (four interceptions) were each sacked three times, Kansas City did outrush the Texans 141-114 in the lopside win.

As was the case in the first meeting, neither club reached the 50 percent mark on third down tries but the Chiefs were a little better, going 4 of 11 and kept the ball for 34:25; the Texans on the short end of the shutout loss were 6 of 14 on third down (0 of 1 on fourth down) and held on to the pigskin for 25:35.

The Texans are 2 1/2 point favorites and the over/under’s 43 1/2. Someone’s going to be 2-0 at the end of the day. Chiefs pull off the upset in the Lone Star State and cover the 2 1/2.

Miami (0-1) at New England (1-0), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 708. It’s a weekend in New England as a pair of AFC East rivals meet in Foxboro. Miami travels north for a meeting with the Tom Brady-less Patriots.

The ‘Fins led briefly in Seattle 10-6 with 4:08 left to play when Ryan Tannehill scored on a 2-yard run before WR Doug Baldwin and QB Russell Wilson connected on a 2-yard TD pass with 31 seconds left to lose 12-10 in the land of grunge, salmon and Starbucks. Seattle outrushed Miami 112-64 and Wilson (258 yards) outpaced Tannehill (186 yards, five sacks) in the contest at CenturyLink Field. Seattle on third down tries? 5 of 16 (2 of 3 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 34:32, while the Dolphins were 3 of 14 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth down tries, holding on to the ball for 25:28.

New England, without Brady or TE Ron Gronkowski, went to Arizona last Sunday night and survived in the desert, coming away 23-21 winners. With Jimmy Garoppolo under center, New England led 10-7 at the intermission and never looked back. The Pats outrushed Arizona 106-92 and sacked Carson Palmer (271 yards, 2 TDs – both to WR Larry Fitzgerald) three times, even though they turned the ball over twice. The Brady-less and Gronkowski-less Pats were 10 of 16 on third down conversions in Glendale and held the ball for 33:59, while Arizona was 6 of 12 and held on to the ball for 26:01.

The Dolphins lead the series 52-46 (which includes contests played at Fenway Park, the old Orange Bowl and Joe Robbie Stadium) and have outscored the Pats 2,116-2,076. The two clubs managed to split the regular season meetings, each taking win in their home parks.

First meeting… week eight on a Thursday night and it was all New England in that matchup, with the Pats coming away 36-7 winners. In that meeting, Brady threw for three TDs, including one to Gronkowski to seal Miami’s fate. New England easily outrushed Miami 95-15 and sacked Tannehill five times, picking him off twice in the blowout. Neither club did anything to write home about on third down tries in Foxboro (New England was 3 of 12, Miami was 2 of 11) but both clubs did reasonably well on fourth down conversions, with the Pats going 1 of 1 and Miami going 1 of 2. Time was on the side of the Pats, who held the ball for 32:37, while the Dolphins kept it for 27:23.

Meeting number two… week 17 in the Sunshine State and the Pats had already clinched the AFC East and this time, it was a much closer contest as the teams went into the final 15 minutes of play tied at 10-10 before Miami rallied in the fourth to come away 20-10 winners. This time, it was Miami that outrushed New England 96-70 and Tannehill threw for 350 yards and a pair of TDs to gain some measure of revenge. Again, both teams struggled on third down tries (New England was 4 of 14, Miami was 8 of 17) and both teams failed in their only fourth down try in the regular season finale and it was Miami ruling the clock, holding the ball for 31:05 to New England’s 28:55.

The Brady-less Pats are favored by 6 1/2 and the over/under? 41 1/2. Both numbers make a lot of sense. The Dolphins gave Seattle a scare last week in the Pacific Northwest, while the Pats held off Arizona in their back yard. New England may not cover the 6 1/2 but they take the win in Foxboro.

Cincinnati (1-0) at Pittsburgh (1-0), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 709. They don’t like each other. They’re both in the rust belt and they’re divisional rivals.

Did we mention they don’t like each other? You might want to send the kids out of the room for this one.

Pittsburgh and Cincinnati meet in the Steel City in a key AFC North contest. Both teams took wins in their season openers and both did the deed on the road.

The Bengals won their season opener against New York last week, defeating the Jets 23-22. Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton passed for 366 yards with a touchdown in Week 1 and wide receiver A.J. Green had 12 catches for 180 yards with a touchdown (54 yards).

Pittsburgh defeated Washington 38-16 on Monday Night Football to open the 2016 season. In Week 1, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw for 300 yards with three touchdowns, wide receiver Antonio Brown had eight catches for 126 yards with two touchdowns and running back De Angelo Williams rushed for 143 yards and two touchdowns. The Steelers trailed 6-0 after the first 15 minutes of play in Landover before outscoring Washington 38-10 in the final three quarters. Pittsburgh held Washington to 55 yards rushing (Pittsburgh had 147) and picked off Kirk Cousins twice in the Monday night affair. Pittsburgh was 9 of 14 on third down tries (2 of 2 on fourth down) and held on to the ball for 33:18, while the Redskins were 3 of 10 and 0 of 2 on third and fourth downs, holding the ball for 26:42.

The Bengals rallied from a 16-13 deficit to come away with a slim 23-22 win in the Meadowlands over the New York Jets at Met Life against Cincinnati would hold them to a pair of Nick Folk field goals in the second half. HB Jeremy Hill would give the Bengals the lead in the second with a 12-yard TD run late in the third and took the lead for keeps when Mike Nugent connected on a 47 yard field goal with 54 seconds left in regulation. Although New York would outrush Cincy 152-57, Bengals QB Andy Dalton did manage to outpass Ryan Fitzpatrick in the air 366-189 in passing yardage. Third down tries? One word. DISMAL. Cincinanti was 3 of 11 and kept the ball for all of 25:07, while the Jets weren’t much better on third down, going 4 of 12, keeping the ball for 34:53.

Pittsburgh leads the series 56-35 and the Steelers have outscored Cincinnati 2,000-1,603. They met three times in the 2015 season, twice in the regular season and once in the post season.

Meeting one… Pittsburgh in week eight at Heinz Field. The Bengals rallied from a 7-6 deficit at the intermission to come away 16-10 winners in the Steel City. Cincy would outscore Pittsburgh 10-3 in the final 30 minutes of play for the road win. Although they were outrushed by Pittsburgh 116-78, Cincinnati did manage to sack Roethlisberger three times, while picking him off three times. Both Dalton and Roethlisberger did manage to throw a TD pass, while Roethlisberger outpaced Dalton in passing yardage 262-231. Both clubs struggled on third down tries in the first meeting (Cincinnati 4 of 15, Pittsburgh 3 of 11) but Pittsburgh did rule the clock, holding the ball for 30:09 to the Bengals’ 29:51.

Round 2… Cincinnati… week 14, along the shores of the Ohio River. As was the case in the first meeting, the Steelers led at the break by a 16-7 score but this time, they held on for the 33-20 win at Paul Brown Stadium. The rushing game in the second meeting? It went Christmas shopping, as neither club breached the 100-yard barrier. That was the bad news. The good news? Pittsburgh did manage to outrush the Bengals 84-64, while forcing three turnovers in the second meeting. Pittsburgh did a lot better on third down conversions, going 8 of 14 and kept the ball for 35:47, while the Bengals were 3 of 8 on third down, keeping the pigskin for 24:13.

They spilt the two regular season contests. It was the post season that things got a bit on the chippy side.

Wild Card Weekend in Cincy and the Steelers took a 15-0 lead into the final quarter of play before the Bengals took their only lead of the contest when Andrew McCarron (subbing for Dalton) and Green connected on a 25 yard pass with 1:50 left to play. The lead would not last very long as the Steelers as Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict (Unnecessary Roughness) and CB Adam Jones (Unsportsmanlike Conduct) were flagged for 30 yards in penalties, allowing Pittsburgh to move the ball close enough for K Chris Boswell to connect on a 35 yard field goal with 14 seconds left. As in the first two meetings, the Steelers outrushed Cincinnati (167-91) and forced four Bengals turnovers. Although both clubs were successful in their only fourth down tries, neither club did anything to talk about on third down (Pittsburgh 2 of 13, Cincinnati 5 of 15) and the Steelers ruled the clock, holding on to the ball for 30:37, while the Bengals found themselves on the short end, keeping it for 29:23.

The oddsmakers like the Steelers at home as 3 1/2 point favorites and the over/under’s 48 1/2. The over/under makes a lot of sense. The 3 1/2? Given that these two offenses can do some damage, that number’s a bit on the light side. This one might be closer but in the end, it might wind up being a pretty good game to watch. Steelers might not cover the 3 1/2 but they win in the Steel City.

San Francisco (1-0) at Carolina (0-1), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 711. Fresh off their shutout win over the Los Angeles Rams, the San Francisco 49ers head eastward for a Sunday afternoon meeting with Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers.

San Francisco went full throtle on Los Angeles last Monday night in Santa Clara and shut out the Rams 28-0. The 49ers led 14-0 at the half and then proceeded to score two more TDs in the fourth quarter unchallenged. Carlos Hyde ran for a pair of TDs in the blowout win, as his team outrushed Los Angeles 150-65 and picked off Case Keenum twice. San Francisco was 8 of 17 on third down attempts in the late Monday night game and kept the ball for 32:10, while the Rams were 3 of 15 on third down, keeping the pigskin for 27:50 (both teams were 1 for 2 on fourth down tries).

The defending NFC champs return home to the Tar Heel State after their 21-20 loss to Denver last week in the Mile High City. The Panthers let a 17-7 halftime lead against the defending Super Bowl champs get away from them as Denver rallied to take the lead back. Carolina had a chance to win the game and pull off the upset, pulling to within one when Greg Gano connected on a 36 yard field late in the fourth quarter. Gano could have been the hero for Carolina but his 53-yard field goal try sailed wide left, giving Denver the win. Carolina outrushed Denver 157-148 and Newton (194 yards passing) threw a TD and ran for a TD in the contest. Both clubs did quite well on third down conversions in the season opener (Denver was 5 of 10, Carolina was 9 of 15) and the Broncos were successful in their only fourth down try in the contest. Carolina, despite losing to Denver for the second time in a calendar year, did manage to rule the clock, keeping the ball for 32:19 to Denver’s 27:41.

Carolina leads the series 11-7 and the Panthers have outscored San Francisco 448-396. San Francisco’s last win over the Panthers in regular season play came in 2001, when both teams were in the same division by a final of 25-22 in overtime in Charlotte; Carolina has won the last four meetings, including a 10-9 win on the West Coast in 2013.

Carolina’s favored by 13 1/2, the largest spread this season (Seattle was a 10 1/2 point favorite last week against Miami) and the over/under is 45 1/2. This one could be closer than 13 1/2. Carolina’s got a chip on their shoulders, they’re at home and that could be a dangerous combination. Panthers may not cover the 13 1/2 but there’s nothing finer in Carolina as they win at home.

New Orleans (0-1) at New York Giants (1-0), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 711. Brees. Eli. They meet in the Meadowlands as the Giants hope to make it 2-0, while the Giants are looking to stay unbeaten in the NFC East.

New Orleans fell to Oakland 35-34 in the Big Easy last SUnday. Brees had 423 pass yards, 4 TDs and 131.3 rating last week, marking his 14th career 400-yard pass game, tying Peyton Manning for most in NFL history. Brees had a 98-yard TD pass to WR Brandin Cooks, 5th TD of 98+ yards on Kickoff Weekend in NFL history.QB Derek Carr passed for 319 yards and TD last week, while throwing the game-winning 2-point conversion to WR Michael Crabtree with 47 seconds left in regulation. The Raiders are 4th team to score GW points on 2-point conversion in the final minute. Oakland trailed 17-10 at the half before they rallied in the final 30 minutes of play, outscoring the Saints 25-17 in the second half. Although Drew Brees threw for four TDs in the contest, Oakland did manage to outrush the Saints 167-88. Both teams were 4 of 11 on third down conversions (New Orleans was 1 of 1 on fourth down) and Oakland ruled the clock, holding the ball for 30:25 to New Orleans’ 29:35.

The Giants chipped away a 16-13 deficit against a Tony Romo-less Dallas as Manning and Victor Cruz connected on a 3-yard TD pass with 6:13 left to play to come away 20-19 winnter in Arlington. For Dallas, it was Dax Prescott under center instead of Romo and he managed to outpass Manning 227-207, while Manning threw for three TDs in the NFC East contest. They lead 13-9 at the intermission, before Dallas rallied to take the lead before surrendering it and had a chance to take the win in front of the home folks and had an eight-play drive going before stalling when WR Terrence Williams failed to get out of bounds to stop the clock. Both teams did quite well on third down conversions (Dallas was 10 of 17, New York was 5 of 10) and Dallas ruled the clock, holding the ball for 36:43, while Eli and the G-Men held on to the pigskin for 23:17.

Including contests that were played at old Tulane Stadium, Yankee Stadium and the Yale Bowl, the Giants lead the series 15-13, outscoring the Saints 647-623. The Saints took a 52-49 win in the Big Easy last year (New York’s last win in the series came in 2012 in the Meadowlands by a final of 52-27.

In the week eight affair in the Big Easy, New Orleans led 28-21 at the half before being outscored by the Giants 28-24 in the second half. New Orleans outrushed Big Blue 103-87, with Brees (7) and Manning (6) combing for 13 TD passes in the contest. Bress also managed to outpass Manning 505-350, although he was picked off twice. In the Sunday night affair, New Orleans found success on third down tries, going 7 of 11 (they went 1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 34:55, while the Giants were 1 of 8 on third down (2 of 2 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 25:05.

The Saints are favored by 6 and the over/under’s 55 1/2. Both numbers make a lot of sense. Both men have Super Bowl rings to their credit. Giants make it 2-0 to start the season, although the Saints could make it closer than the 6.

Dallas (0-1) at Washington (0-1), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 712. Hatfields vs. McCoys. Dogs vs. Cats. Capulets vs. Montagues. Spy vs. Spy. Washington vs. Dallas. They STILL don’t like each other.

Both are coming off losses at home and both look to correct that problem.

A Tony Romo-less Dallas let a 16-13 lead after three quarters get away from them as Eli Manning and Victor Cruz connected on a 3-yard TD pass with 6:13 left to play to fall 20-19 in Arlington. For the season opener in the Lone Star State, it was Dax Prescott under center instead of Romo and he managed to outpass Manning 227-207, while Manning threw for three TDs in the NFC East contest. Trailing 13-9 at the intermission, Dallas rallied to take the lead before surrendering it and had a chance to take the win in front of the home folks and had an eight-play drive going before stalling when WR Terrence Williams failed to get out of bounds to stop the clock. Both teams did quite well on third down conversions (Dallas was 10 of 17, New York was 5 of 10) and Dallas ruled the clock, holding the ball for 36:43, while Eli and the G-Men held on to the pigskin for 23:17.

Washington let a 6-0 first quarter lead get away from them as Pittsburgh defeated the defending NFC East champs 38-16 in Landover last Monday night to open the 2016 season. Washington would go on to be outscored by Ben Roethlisberger 38-10 in the final three quarters for the loss and was held to 55 yards rushing (Pittsburgh had 147) and picked off Kirk Cousins twice in the Monday night affair. Pittsburgh was 9 of 14 on third down tries (2 of 2 on fourth down) and held on to the ball for 33:18, while the Redskins were 3 of 10 and 0 of 2 on third and fourth downs, holding the ball for 26:42.

Dallas leads the series 66-42-2 and have outscored the defending NFC East champions 2,532-2,113. In the last four games in the series, the two teams have spilt the contests and last year, taking wins on the other team’s field.

First meeting… week 13 in Landover on a Monday night without Romo. Dallas and Washington went into the final 15 minutes of play even at 6-6. Dallas took the lead for the first time when Darren McFadden ran in from 6 yards out with 1:14 left to play. Washington would tie things back up when Kirk Cousins and WR De Sean Jackson connected on a 28 yard pass with 44 seconds left. Dallas had one last trick up its sleeve and used it to march down the field and take the lead back for keeps when Dan Bailey connected on a 54-yard field goal with nine seconds left. Neither club did anything to keep their fan bases happy on third down tries (Dallas had 97 yards, while Washington tallied 73) and Dallas turned the ball over three times. Third down tries? DISMAL and that’s being kind… Dallas was 9 of 9, while Washington was 6 of 16 and Washington did manage to rule the clock, keeping the ball for 32:47 to Dallas’ 27:13.

Meeting number two… week 17 in the Lone Star State. The second meeting wasn’t as close as meeting number one, the Cowboys were still without Romo and out of the playoff picture and the Redskins had already clinched the NFC East. Washington led 24-14 at the half and then pulled away to take a 34-23 win in Arlington. Cousins threw for 174 yards and three TDs, although he was easily outpaced by backup QB Kellen Moore, who had 435 yards and three TDs, despite being sacked four times and picked off twice. Washington on third down tries in the second meeting was much better, going 7 of 14, while Dallas on third down was 2 of 10 (Both clubs were 2 of 2 on fourth down) and once again, the Redskins ruled the clock, holding the ball for 33:58, while Dallas kept it for 26:02.

Washington’s favored by 3 and the over/under is 45 1/2. One team is the defending NFC East champ, while the other has been a dumpster fire the last few years. We like the champ in this one. “HAIL TO THE REDSKINS!” Washington covers the 3 and wins at home in Landover.

Tampa Bay (1-0) at Arizona (0-1), 4:05 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 713. Jameis Winston vs. Carson Palmer. A pair of top QB meet in the desert in Glendale as Arizona looks to break into the win column against Tampa Bay.

Tampa Bay came out of Atlanta 31-24 winners last Sunday in the Big Peach. The Bucs led 17-13 at the half before Atlanta  rallied to make the contest closer but could come no further. Jameis Winston and Matt Ryan put on a passing clinic in the Georgia Dome last Sunday, combining for 6 TDs (Ryan with 2, Winston with four) Ryan threw for 334 yards and a pair of TDs, including one to WR Julio Jones (WR Mohamed Sanu had the other one). That was a good thing, because neither team’s rushing game was anything to talk about, Tampa Bay did manage to outrush the Falcons 90-52 and sacked Ryan three times, holding the Falcons off in a final drive that could have either tied the contest or given Atlanta the win. The Falcons were 3 of 13 on third down tries (1 of 2 on fourth down) and held on to the ball for 32:23, while the Bucs, led by Winston’s 281 passing yards (4 TDs), went 3 of 10 on third down, keeping the ball for 27:37.

Arizona comes back to the nest with in somewhat of a foul mood, losing at home to a Tom Brady-less New England 23-21. QB Carson Palmer passed for 271 yards with 2 TDs and 104.7 rating last week and has 100+ rating in 8 of past 11 games. Palmer’s favorite target, WR Larry Fitzgerald had 8 catches for 81 yards and 2 TDs vs. New England. The Pro-Bowlerc caught 100th career TD in Week 1, making him the 10th player in NFL history to reach mark. Since entering NFL in 2004, Fitzgerald ranks 1st in catches (1,026) and receiving yards (13,447) with 100 TDs.

Including games played when the Desert Angry Birds were in St. Louis, the series is even with each club taking nine wins but Tampa Bay has outscored Arizona 326-318. Both team’s last wins came in the other team’s backyard; Arizona’s last win came in the Sunshine State by a final of 13-10 in 2013, while the Bucs took a 38-35 win in the desert in 2010.

Arizona’s favored by 7 in the desert and the over/under’s 50. It’s plausible that both numbers could be reached. While it might be closer than the 7, Arizona reaches the .500 mark with the win at home.

Seattle (1-0) at Los Angeles (0-1), 4:05 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 714. HOORAY FOR HOLLYWOOD! There’s going to be a pro football in Los Angeles for the first time since 1994 when the Rams welcome the Seattle Seahawks, who take a 1,137-mile trip down I-5 for an NFC West showdown at the Coliseum.

Seattle trailed at home 10-6 with 4:08 left to play when Ryan Tannehill scored on a 2-yard run and took the lead for kees as WR Doug Baldwin and QB Russell Wilson connected on a 2-yard TD pass with 31 seconds left to come away 12-10 winners in the land of grunge, salmon and Starbucks. Seattle outrushed Miami 112-64 and Wilson (258 yards) outpaced Tannehill (186 yards, five sacks) in the contest at CenturyLink Field. Seattle on third down tries? 5 of 16 (2 of 3 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 34:32, while the Dolphins were 3 of 14 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth down tries, holding on to the ball for 25:28.

For the Rams, it will be their first game in Los Angeles since the Clinton adminstration (1994) and the homecoming could not come at a better time. Los Angeles found themselves on the short end of a 28-0 shutout loss last Monday night in Santa Clara the 49ers. Los Angeles trailed 14-0 at the half and then saw the 49ers score two more TDs in the fourth quarter unchallenged after both teams played a scoreless third period. Carlos Hyde ran for a pair of TDs in the blowout win, as his team outrushed Los Angeles 150-65 and picked off Case Keenum twice. San Francisco was 8 of 17 on third down attempts in the late Monday night game and kept the ball for 32:10, while the Rams were 3 of 15 on third down, keeping the pigskin for 27:50 (both teams were 1 for 2 on fourth down tries).

Seahawks lead the series 21-14, which includes contests that took place when the Rams were in St. Louis and they have outscored Los Angeles 784-702. That’s the good news. The bad news? The Rams swept the season series last year with Seattle (the Seahawks’ last win in the series came in 2014, when they were 20-6 winners in Seattle).

Meeting number one… week one in St. Louis. Seattle led 31-24 late in the game before St. Louis’ Lance Kendricks and Nick Foles connected on a 37-yard TD pass with 57 seconds left in regulation to tie things up. The Rams would go on to win the contest in overtime when K Greg Zuerlein kicked a 37-yard field goal for the 34-31 win. Seattle did outrush the Rams 124-76 but Foles outpassed Wilson (6 sacks, interception) 297-251 in the opener. The Rams were 6 of 11 on third down tries in the first meeting at Edward Jones Dome and held on to the ball for 28:32. Seattle struggled on third down conversions, going 8 of 19 (1 of 2 on fourth down) but did manage to rule the clock, keeping the ball for 37:28.

Round two… the Pacific Northwest in week 16. It was another close contest in the land of grunge, salmon and Starbucks but once again, the Rams prevailed, taking a 23-17 win on the road. St. Louis led 16-3 at the break before Seattle rallied to outscore St. Louis 14-7 in the second half. This time, St. Louis’ running game was functioning, as they outrushed Seattle 102-59 and sacked Wilson four times in the contest. Both teams did struggle on third down tries in the second contest (St. Louis was 5 of 12; Seattle was 8 of 17, 1 of 1 on fourth down tries) but Seattle did rule the clock, keeping the ball for 32:06 to St. Louis’ 27:54.

Seattle is favored by 6 1/2 and the over/under is 38. Since this is the first game in Los Angeles since ’94, this one could be a good game to watch. In fact, because it’s Los Angeles, we’re going to make this one “DRILL WORTHY!” (For those of you that know what The Drill is, you are excused. Everyone else, pay attention. We don’t want any rookie mistakes here, k?) After you go to the 9:30 mass on Sunday (the 4:30 vigil mass on Saturday counts as a mass attended, people! Don’t make us send the nuns after you! If we do, it is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OVER!), head to your favorite store (a trip to Wal Mart, Target, K-Mart or Costco counts) and get the vittles and the beverages (soda, beer, wine, coffee, et al… if you live in a state that allows the purchase of the items in question) and invite the co-workers, the neighbors (including that really cute kindergarden teacher that knows what to do with a cover-2 defense) and your cousin Connie (remember her? She’s the one that’s been married twice that’s just turned 57
last June and dates a 42-year old ex-Marine, who’s now a football coach at the high school in your town. She’s also the one that ate an entire Oreo cheesecake, two bags of Cool Ranch Doritos, two bacon cheeseburgers with blue cheese and chugged two 2-liter Cokes at your Super Bowl party last year and didn’t gain a pound. You look at her and say to yourself, “what the hell?”

The Rams will at the very least make this one close but Seattle prevails in Tinsletown and gets revenge for being swept last year. Seahawks take this one on the road and covers the 6 1/2.

Indianapolis (0-1) at Denver (1-0), 4:25 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 715. Two teams with one name in common… Manning… meet in Denver as the Colts travel to the Mile High City to face the Denver Broncos.

The Colts are looking to take their frustrations out on someone after they had led Detroit 35-34 with 37 seconds left in regulation against the Lions. QB Andrew Luck and TE Jack Doyle had connected on a 6 yard TD pass that gave them the lead briefly and we mean briefly. Detroit got the ball back and Matt Prater connected on a 43 yard field goal with four seconds left. Indy would later see insult added to injury on the kickoff when they got the ball back and tried several lateral passes to move the ball and keep the contest going. T.Y. Hilton threw what he thought was a forward pass from the end zone but the officials saw it differntly, calling it an illegal pass, which meant a safety for the Lions, who took the 39-35 win in the Hoosier State. Detroit outrushed Indy 116-82 but Luck (4 TDs) did manage to outpass Matthew Stafford (3 TDs) 385 to 340.  Both teams did well on third down tries (Indianapolis was 9 of 16, Detroit was 5 of 9) and the Lions ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 30:36 to Indy’s 29:24.

The defending Super Bowl champs squeaked out a 21-20 win over Carolina in a Super Bowl L (50) rematch in the Mile High City. Denver trailed 17-7 at halftime before pulling themselves up and taking Carolina to task. Carolina had a chance to win the game and pull off the upset, pulling to within one when Greg Gano connected on a 36 yard field late in the fourth quarter. Gano could have been the hero for Carolina but his 53-yard field goal try sailed wide left, giving Denver the win. Carolina outrushed Denver 157-148 and Newton (194 yards passing) threw a TD and ran for a TD in the contest. Both clubs did quite well on third down conversions in the season opener (Denver was 5 of 10, Carolina was 9 of 15) and the Broncos were successful in their only fourth down try in the contest. Carolina, despite losing to Denver for the second time in a calendar year, did manage to rule the clock, keeping the ball for 32:19 to Denver’s 27:41.

The Broncos lead the series 12-10 (which includes games that were played when the Colts were in Baltimore) and they have outscored the Colts 492-463. They met last year in the Hoosier State and it was the Colts holding off Peyton Manning and the Broncos by a final of 27-24. In the week nine contest at Lucas Oil Stadium, Denver managed to pull even with Indy when Manning and TE Owens Daniels connected on a 1 yard TD pass with 8:54 left in regulation. That tie would not last very long as the Colts marched downfield and took the lead for keeps when Adam Vinatieri connected on a 55 yard field goal with 6:13 remaining. Indy outrushed Denver 120-35 but Manning outpassed Luck 281-252, with each QB throwing a pair of TDs and an intercaption. Denver went 6 of 12 on third down tries and kept the ball for 21:21, while the Colts were 12 of 20, keeping the pigskin for 38:39.

Denver’s favored by 6 and the over/under’s 46. No Peyton here. Denver may not cover the 6 but they win in the Mile High City.

Jacksonville (0-1) at San Diego (0-1), 4:25 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 717. It’s a 2,340 mile trip along I-10 as Jacksonville travels west to Southern California for a meeting on the Left Coast with the San Diego Chargers.

Jacksonville came up short against Green Bay in Florida’s first city, falling to the Packers 27-23 at EverBank Field. Jacksonville trailed 21-17 at the half and the two teams played even football in the final 30 minutes of play. Green Bay, who outrushed Jacksonville 95-48, held off a late Jaguar rally that would have given the home team the win, stopping three Blake Bortles passes late in the game to end the threat. Bortles (TD) did manage to outpace Rodgers (2 TDs) 320-199 but found himself being sacked three times. Green Bay on third and fourth downs went 7 of 14 and 1 of 1, keeping the ball for 28:37, while Jacksonville ruled the clock, hoolding the ball for 31:23, while going 4 of 15 and 3 of 4 on third and fourth downs.

The Bolts let a 21-3 lead at the half at Kansas City get away from them and fell in overtime to the Chiefs 33-27. The Chiefs took care of business in the second half and overtime, outscoring the Philip Rivers-led Chargers 30-6 in the last three periods for the win over their AFC West rivals. Although they were outrushed by San Diego 155-83, Alex Smith did manage to outpass Rivers 363-243, while throwing a pair of TD passes and scoring the game-winner in overtime from two yards out. Kansas City was 5 of 14 on third down tries at Arrowhead (2 of 2 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 31:06 (including the overtime), while the Bolts went 7 of 15, keeping the ball for 34:01.

San Diego leads the series with Jacksonville 6-2, they have outscored the Jaguars 236-144 and have won the last five meetings, including a 31-25 win in Jacksonville last year (Jacksonville’s last win in the series came in 2007, when they came away 24-17 winners in the Sunshine State.

In the week 12 contest on Florida’s East Coast, San Diego led 21-9 at the half before Jacksonville pulled close, outscoring the Bolts 16-10 in the final 30 minutes of play. Jacksonville managed to outrush San Diego 102-79 and outpassed the Chargers 329-300 (Bortles threw a pair of TDs, while Rivers threw four, with each getting sacked twice). Jacksonville on third down went 5 of 15 (2 for 3 on fourth down) and held on to the ball for 28:36, while the Chargers were 6 of 14, 1 of 1 as far as third and fourth down tries were concerned and held on to the ball for 31:24.

San Diego’s favored by 3 and the over/under’s 47. You might want to take a pass on this one (unless you’re a fan of either team) and watch that “NCIS” marathon on Ion Network (there’s nothing funnier than seeing Ziva smack Tony over the head!). Chargers “bolt” their way to the win on the Left Coast and cover the 3.

Green Bay (1-0) at Minnesota (1-0), 8:30 p.m. on NBC. They meet again. A pair of NFC North rivals meet in the Twin Cities as the Packers and Vikings open the newest NFL stadium, US Bank Field in Minneapolis in primetime.

Green Bay and Aaron Rodgers needed some help from their defense late against Jacksonville as they came away 27-23 winners in the Sunshine State. The Packers led Jacksonville 21-17 at the half and the two teams played even football in the final 30 minutes of play. Green Bay, who outrushed Jacksonville 95-48, held off a late Jaguar rally that would have given the home team the win, stopping three Blake Bortles passes late in the game to end the threat. Bortles (TD) did manage to outpace Rodgers (2 TDs) 320-199 but found himself being sacked three times. Green Bay on third and fourth downs went 7 of 14 and 1 of 1, keeping the ball for 28:37, while Jacksonville ruled the clock, hoolding the ball for 31:23, while going 4 of 15 and 3 of 4 on third and fourth downs.

The Vikings trailed 10-0 against Tennessee, who was without Teddy Bridgewater, before they outscored the Titans 25-6 in the last 30 minutes of action to win 25-16 in Nashville. As far as the rushing game was concerned, there was nothing to write home about as neither club came close to the 100-yard barrier (Minnesota could only tally 65 yards on the ground, while Tennessee could muster only 64). Marcus Mariota did manage to outpass Bridgewater’s replacement, Sean Hill, with 271 yards and a pair of TDs (Hill had 236 in the air for the Vikings) in the season opener for both clubs.

Including contests that were played in Milwaukee and at old Metropolitan Stadium, the Packers lead the series 58-49-2 and Green Bay has outscored the Vikings 2,397-2,108. They met twice in the 2015 campaign and both took wins on the other team’s field.

First round… week 11 at TCF Bank Stadium on the campus of the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Green Bay made short work of Minnesota in front of their fans, taking a 30-13 win. Eddie Lacy ran for 100 of the Packers’ 124 yards in the contest, while the Packer defense held Minnesota’s ground game to 94 (Adrian Peterson accounted for 45 of those yards). Even though Rodgers (212 yards) was outpassed by Bridgewater, he did manage to throw a pair of TDs without an interception, while Bridgewater (296 yards) was sacked six times. Both clubs could not breach the 50 percent mark on third down tries (Green Bay went 6 of 16; Minnesota was 5 of 13, 0 of 2 on fourth down) and time was on the side of the Packers, who kept the ball for 30:22 to Minnesota/s 29:38.

Round two… week 17… Lambeau Field. The second meeting was for all the marbles. The winner? NFC North champs. The loser? Wild Card. Green Bay trailed 20-3 after three quarters of play and rallied but fell short, falling to Minnesota in the land of cheese, beer and bratwurst 20-13. In the season finale, Minnesota outran Green Bay 151-76 (Peterson accounted for 67 of their yards) and the Vikings defense sacked Rodgers (291 yards) five times. Third down tries in the second meeting? They went on a milk carton of sorts (Green Bay was 2 of 15; Minnesota was 2 of 11) but both clubs did reasonably well on fourth down (Minnesota was successful in their only try, while the Packers were 3 of 6). Green Bay ruled the clock this time, keeping the ball for 35:42, while the Vikings held it for 24:18.

Green Bay’s favored by 2 1/2 and the over/under is 43 1/2. New stadium. Old rivals in the NFC North (or as Chris Berman calls it the NFC Norris). Both teams are 1-0, which makes this one “DRILL WORTHY!” (for instructions on “The Drill,” see the Seattle-Los Angeles game). Green Bay’s got revenge and would love nothing more than to ruin the party for the Vikings and their fans. Packers cover the 2 1/2 and win in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

Philadelphia (1-0) at Chicago (0-1), 8:30 p.m. Monday on ESPN. Week two concludes along the shores of Lake Michigan as the Monsters of the Midway host the Philadelphia Eagles at Soldier Field.

The Carson Wentz era began in the City of Brotherly Love as he passed for 278 yards and 2 TDs with 101 rating in NFL debut in their 29-10 win over Cleveland at Lincoln Financial Field. Wentz became the 1st Eagles rookie to start at QB in season opener since 1939 (Davey O’Brien) and had the highest rating by Eagles rookie QB since John Reaves in 1972 (minimum of 20 pass attempts). Philadelphia outrushed the Browns in the season opener 133-120 and Griffin threw for 190 yards before his injury (he was sacked three times in the contest). Philadelphia held on to the ball for 39:20, while the Browns kept it for 20:40.

Da Bears return to the Windy City after their 23-14 loss to Houston last Sunday in the Lone Star State. Chicago led 14-10 at the half before the Texans went on to shut them out in the second half. Chicago was held to 73 yards rushing and Jay Cutler was sacked five times in the 9-point loss. Houston’s Lamar Miller led all rushers with 106 of the Texans’ 129 yards, while Brock Osweiler (231 yards) threw a pair of TDs, although he was sacked twice. Chicago was 4 of 13 and 0 of 2 on third and fourth down tries and kept the ball for 23:41, while the Texans kept the pigskin for 36:19, going 12 of 20 on third downs.

Da Bears lead da series 28-10-1 (which includes contests that were played when Chicago played at the corners of Clark, Waveland, Sheffield and Addison… Wrigley Field) and Chicago has outscored the Eagles 856-557. Philly won the last meeting between the two, coming away 54-11 in the City of Brotherly Love in 2013, while Da Bears’ last win in the series also came in Philly, a 30-24 win in 2011.

On Monday nights, the Eagles have a better record than Da Bears. Philly is 31-26 and was 1-1 in their Monday night contests last year, while Chicago is 29-36 but picked their only MNF win last year. Chicago’s favored by 3 and the over/under’s 42 1/2. This one might be worth watching, so you might want to tape “The Big Bang Theory” this week. Eagles pull off the upset in the Windy City and covers the 3.

Sunday and Monday Broadcast Information

Tampa Bay at ATLANTA, 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 709: Sam Rosen, David Diehl, Holly Sonders (Field reporter). SIRIUS: 146 (Tampa Bay), 84 (Atlanta). XM: 387 (Tampa Bay), 227 (Atlanta).

Buffalo at Baltimore, 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 705: Spero Dedes, Solomon Wilcots, Dana Jacobson (Field reporter). SIRIUS: 126 (Buffalo), 134 (Baltimore). XM: 384 (Buffalo), 232 (Baltimore).

Chicago at Houston, 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 710: Thom Brennaman, Charles Davis, Peter Schrager (Field reporter). SIRIUS: 135 (Chicago), 83 (Houston). XM: 382 (Chicago), 226 (Houston).

Green Bay at Jacksonville, 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 711: Kevin Burkhardt, John Lynch, Pam Oliver (Field reporter). Westwood One: John Sadak, Jason Taylor. SIRIUS: 93 (Green Bay), 119 (Jacksonville). XM: 380 (Green Bay), 230 (Jacksonville).

San Diego at Kansas City, 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 706: Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon. SIRIUS: 138 (San Diego), 113 (Kansas City). XM: 386 (San Diego), 225 (Kansas City).

Oakland at New Orleans, 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 712: Chris Myers, Ronde Barber, Jennifer Hale (Field reporter). SIRIUS: 137 (Oakland), 82 (New Orleans). XM: 388 (Oakland), 82 (New Orleans).

Cincinnati at New York Jets, 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV xxx: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Tracy Wolfson (Field reporter). SIRIUS: 81 (Cincinnati), 133 (New York Jets). XM: 381 (Cincinnati), 229 (New York Jets).

Cleveland at Philadelphia, 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 708: Greg Gumbel, Trent Green, Jamie Erdahl (Field reporter). SIRIUS: 112 (Cleveland), 132 (Philadelphia). XM: 385 (Cleveland), 231 (Philadelphia).

Minnesota at Tennessee, 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 713: Dick Stockton, Chris Spielman, Krista Pink (Field reporter). SIRIUS: 136 (Minnesota), 121 (Tennessee). XM: 226 (Minnesota), 228 (Tennessee).

Miami at Seattle, 4:05 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 714: Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts, Evan Washburn (Field reporter). Westwood One: Kevin Lee, Mike Holmgren. SIRIUS: 81 (Miami), 113 (Seattle). XM: 381 (Miami), 225 (Seattle).

New York Giants at Dallas, 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 715: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews (Field reporter). SIRIUS: 93 (New York Giants), 82 (Dallas). XM: 380 (New York Giants), 82 (Dallas).

Detroit at Indianapolis, 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 716: Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Laura Okmin (Field reporter). SIRIUS: 135 (Detroit), 83 (Indianapolis). XM: 382 (Detroit), 226 (Indianapolis).

New England at Arizona, 8:30 p.m. on NBC: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya (Field reporter). Westwood One: Kevin Kugler, James Lofton. SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 83 (New England), 81 (Arizona). XM: 88 (WestWood1), 226 (New England), 225 (Arizona).

Pittsburgh at Washington, 7:10 p.m. Monday on ESPN: Sean McDonough, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters (Field reporter). Westwood One: Ian Eagle, Boomer Esiason, Ross Tucker (Field reporter). SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 132 (Pittsburgh), 81 (Washington). XM: 88 (WestWood1), 226 (Pittsburgh), 225 (Washignton).

Los Angeles at San Francisco, 10:20 p.m. on ESPN: Chris Berman, Steve Young, Lindsay Czarniak (Field reporter). Westwood One: Kevin Harlan, Kurt Warner, Scott Kaplan (Field reporter). SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 83 (Los Angeles), 137 (San Francisco). XM: 88 (WestWood1), 228 (Los Angeles), 227 (San Francisco).

Referees for Sunday and Monday’s Games
Tampa Bay at ATLANTA – Jeff Triplette
Buffalo at Baltimore – Brad Allen
Chicago at Houston – Pete Morelli
Green Bay at Jacksonville – Terry McAulay
San Diego at Kansas City – Jerome Boger
Oakland at New Orleans – John Parry
Cincinnati at New York Jets – Clete Blakeman
Cleveland at Philadelphia – Walt Anderson
Minnesota at Tennessee – Walt Coleman
Miami at Seattle – John Hussey
New York Giants at Dallas – Ronald Torbert
Detroit at Indianapolis – Ed Hochuli
New England at Arizona – Tony Corrente
Pittsburgh at Washington on Monday – Craig Wrolstad
Los Angeles at San Francisco on Monday – Bill Vinovich

Sunday and Monday Injury Report

Tampa Bay at ATLANTA, 1 p.m.

Tampa Bay
OUT: LB Devante Bond (Hamstring)
QUESTIONABLE: S Ryan Smith (Hand), TE Lucas Locker (Back)

ATLANTA
OUT: S Keanu Neal (Knee)
QUESTIONABLE: S Dashon Goldson (Hamstring), RB Terron Ward (Ankle)

Buffalo at Baltimore, 1 p.m.

Buffalo
OUT: S Colt Anderson (Foot), CB Kevon Seymour (Hamstring)
QUESTIONABLE: QB Cardale Jones (Shoulder), RB Jonathan Williams (Ribs), G Ryan Groy (Ribs)

Baltimore
OUT: RB Kenneth Dixon (Knee), LB Elvis Dumervil (Foot), CB Courtney Powers (Ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: TE Dennis Pitta (Finger), G John Urschel (Shoulder), TE Maxx Williams (Knee), CB Shareece Wright (Foot)

Chicago at Houston, 1 p.m.

Chicago
QUESTIONABLE: S Deon Bush (Hamstring), CB Bryce Callahan (Groin), CB Kyle Fuller (Knee), RB Paula Lasike (Wrist), T Kyle Long (Shoulder), WR Deonte Thompson (Knee), DE Cornelius Washington (Ankle), WR Kevin White (Hamstring)

Houston
OUT: T Duane Brown (Knee)

Minnesota at Tennessee, 1 p.m.

Minnesota
OUT: C Nicholas Easton (Ankle), TE MyCole Pruitt (Knee)
QUESTIONABLE: RB Jerick McKinnon (Foot), WR Charles Johnson (Quadicep)

Tennessee
OUT: WR Kendall wright (Hamstring)

Green Bay at Jacksonville, 1 p.m.

Green Bay
OUT: CB Joshua Hawkins (Hamstring)
QUESTIONABLE: TE Justin Perillo (Knee), WR Jeff Janis (Hand)
DOUBTFUL: S Ayorunmi Banjo (Hamstring), WR Trevor Davis (Shoulder), LB Jayrone Elliott (Hamstring)

Jacksonville
QUESTIONALBE: DE Jared Odrick (Jaw), RB Christopher Ivory (Calf)

San Diego at Kansas City, 1 p.m.

San Diego – Chargers did not report any injuries at press time

Kansas City
DOUBTFUL: RB Jamaal Charles (Knee)

Oakland at New Orleans, 1 p.m.

Oakland
OUT: T Austin Howard (Ankle)

New Orleans
OUT: LB Dannell Ellerbe (Quadricep)
QUESTIONABLE: TE Chris Manhertz (Head), T Terron Armstead (Knee), WR Michael Thomas (Ankle)

Cincinnati at New York Jets, 1 p.m.

Cincinnati
OUT: TE Tyler Eifert (Ankle)
DOUBTFUL: CB Darqueze Dennard (Ankle)

New York Jets
Game Status
OUT: CB Darryl Roberts (Foot), QB Bryce Petty (Shoulder)
QUESTIONABLE: LB Bruce Carter (Shoulder), LB David Harris (Shoulder)
DOUBTFUL: LB Jordan Jenkins (Calf)

Cleveland at Philadelphia, 1 p.m.

Cleveland
OUT: CB Marcus Burley (Groin)

Philadelphia
OUT: WR Bryce Treggs (Knee)
QUESTIONABLE: DE Vincent Curry (Knee)

Miami at Seattle, 4:05 p.m.

Miami
OUT: C James Pouncey (Hip)
QUESTIONABLE: wR DeVante Parker (Hamstring), DE Terrance Fede (Knee), DT Earl Mitchell (Calf), T Laremy Tunstil (Knee), LB
Jelani Jenkins (Knee), RB Isaiah Pead (Hamstring)

Seattle
OUT: TE Nicholas Vannett (Ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: G Germain Ifedi (Ankle), TE Jimmy Graham (Knee)

New York Giants at Dallas, 4:25 p.m.

New York Giants
OUT: DT Robert Thomas (Illness)

Dallas
OUT: LB Mark Nzeocha (Achilles), QB Tony Romo (Back), DE Charles Tapper (Back)
QUESTIONABLE: G Ronald Leary (Groin)
Detroit at Indianapolis, 4:25 p.m.

Detroit
QUESTIONABLE: TE Eric Ebron (Ankle), C Graham Glasgow (Toe), T Corey Robinson (Ankle), WR Golden Tate (Ankle)

Indianapolis
OUT: CB Darius Butler (Ankle), CB Vontae Davis (Ankle), S Clayton Gethers (Foot), DT Henry Anderson (Knee)
QUESTIONABLE: T Joseph Haeg (Ankle), G Jack Mewhort (Knee), LB Snorsio Moore (Hamstring)

New England at Arizona, 8:30 p.m.

New England
QUESTIONABLE: WR Chris Hogan (Shoulder), G Jonathan Cooper (Foot), DE Trey Flowers (Shoulder), TE Rob Gronkowski (Hamstring), G Shaquille Mason (Hand), LB Shea McClellin (Shoulder), WR Malcom Mitchell (Elbow), T Nathaniel Solder (Hamstring)

Arizona
OUT: LB Kareem Martin (Knee)
QUESTIONABLE: CB Justin Bethel (Foot), LB Lamar Louis (Knee), RB Stepfan Taylor (Knee)

Pittsburgh at Washingotn, 7:10 p.m. on Monday

Pittsburgh
OUT: CB Senquez Golson (Foot), RB Roosevelt Nix (Back), C Cody Wallace (Knee), WR Markus Wheaton (Shoulder)

Washington
QUESTIONABLE: DE Kendall Reyes (Groin), G Spencer Long (Ankle), RB Matt Jones (Shoulder), DT Kedric Golston (Back), WR
Joshua Doctson (Achilles)

Los Angeles at San Francisco, 10:20 p.m. on Monday

Los Angeles
OUT: WR Pharoh Cooper (Shoulder), CB Edwin Gaines (Thigh), WR Nelson Spruce (Knee)
QUESTIONABLE: LB Bryce Hager (Concussion), T Robert Havenstein (Foot)

San Francisco
QUESTIONABLE: T Anthony Davis (Not Injury Related). DT Arik Armstead (Shoulder), LB Nick Bellore (Knee), DT Quinton Dial (Knee), DT Glenn Dorsey (Knee), CB Keith Reaser (Ankle)
DOUBTFUL: CB Christopher Davis (Hamstring)

Sunday and Monday Odds (Home teams in CAPS)

Sunday’s Games
Favorite             Spread    Underdog                  O/U
ATLANTA              –  2 1/2  Tampa Bay                 48
Minnesota            –  2 1/2  Tennessee                 40
PHILADELPHIA         –  3      Cleveland                 41
Cincinnati           –  2      NEW YORK JETS             42
NEW ORLEANS          –  2      Oakland                   52
KANSAS CITY          –  6 1/2  San Diego                 44
BALTIMORE            –  3      Buffalo                   44 1/2
HOUSTON              –  5      Chicago                   43 1/2
Green Bay            –  5      JACKSONVILLE              48
SEATTLE              – 10      Miami                     44
DALLAS               –  1      New York Giants           46 1/2
INDIANAPOLIS         –  3      Detroit                   51
ARIZONA              –  7      New England               44

Monday’s Games
Favorite             Spread    Underdog                  O/U
Pittsburgh           –  3      WASHINGTON                50
Los Angeles          –  2 1/2  SAN FRANCISCO             42 1/2

Sunday and Monday Weather
Tampa Bay at ATLANTA, 1 p.m. (Game indoors)
Buffalo at Baltimore, 1 p.m. (Mostly sunny and 81 degrees)
Chicago at Houston, 1 p.m. (Game indoors; if roof is open, partly cloudy and 86 degrees)
Green Bay at Jacksonville, 1 p.m. (Mostly cloudy and 91 degrees)
San Diego at Kansas City, 1 p.m. (Sunny and 74 degrees)
Oakland at New Orleans, 1 p.m. (Game indoors)
Cincinnati at New York Jets, 1 p.m. (Mostly Sunny and 82 degrees)
Cleveland at Philadelphia, 1 p.m. (Partly Cloudy and 83 degrees)
Minnesota at Tennessee, 1 p.m. (Sunny and 79 degrees)
Miami at Seattle, 4:05 p.m. (Mostly Cloudy and 62 degrees)
New England at Dallas, 4:25 p.m. (Game indoors; if roof is open, sunny and 85 degrees)
Detroit at Indianapolis, 4:25 p.m. (Game indoors; if roof is open, partly cloudy and 75 degrees)
New England at Arizona, 8:30 p.m. (Game indoors; if roof is open, partly cloudy and 100 degrees)
Pittsburgh at Washington, 7:10 p.m. on Monday (Sunny and 76 degrees)
Los Angeles at San Francisco, 10:20 p.m. on Monday (Sunny and 62 degrees)

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

After weeks of OTA’s, pre-season games, sweating in a hot sun, sleeping in college dorms, two-a-days, fighting teammates, the bugs and the heat… it’s finally time for football.

The National Football League got underway last Thursday evening in the Mile High City as the defending Super Bowl champions got their rings as they faced off against the team they beat for the Lombardi Trophy in Santa Clara last January, the Carolina Panthers.

Peyton’s gone, in case you’ve forgotten. He’s ridden off into the sunset and there was some talk as to who would replace him. In the end, the football gods decided that it would be …

As for the team that Denver beat to get to Santa Clara? New England? They’ll be without the services of Tom Brady for four games for his role in Deflategate a few years ago. Brady will be back in week five, when they take on the Cleveland Browns, who will also be without the services of Josh Gordon (failed drug test). That contest in Foxboro is already being billed as the “Suspension Bowl.”

But enough about that.

One game’s already in the books as Denver escaped with a one-point win aginst Cam Newton and the Panthers in a Super Bowl 50 rematch. The Super Bowl 50 champions Denver Broncos have the top mark in the NFL. winning 23 of its past 25 home openers. It’s when things start to count.

Some clubs have excelled in openers. Here is a sampling of notable active NFL Kickoff streaks:

AFC East champion New England, who travels to Arizona on Sunday Night Football, have a 16-4 record on the road against NFC teams over the past 10 seasons. The Patriots have the fifth-most Kickoff Weekend wins among AFC teams (31).

AFC South champion Houston, who opens the season hosting Chicago, have won five of their past six home openers.

NFC West champion Arizona, who hosts New England on Kickoff Weekend, have the third-longest current winning streak among NFC teams in home openers (six).

NFC East champion Washington and the San Francsico 49ers start the season at home against Pittsburgh and Los Angeles, respectively, during a Monday Night Football doubleheader. Washington has 48 wins in home openers – the fifth-most amongst NFC teams – while San Francisco has won 14 of its past 20 home openers.

Green Bay, traveling to Jacksonville on Kickoff Weekend, hold the record for the most wins in road openers (54) and the second-best winning percentage in openers on the road (.581, 54-39-2).

Pittsburgh, who travels to Washington on Monday night of Kickoff Weekend, have the most wins (41) among AFC teams on Kickoff Weekend.

Atlanta, who will host Tampa Bay to open the 2016 campaign, has won eight consecutive home openers, the longest active streak in the NFL.

The Seattle Seahawks, who host Miami on Kickoff Weekend in the land of grunge, salmon and Starbucks, have won seven
consecutive home openers, the second-longest streak in the league

The New York Jets host Cincinnati on Kickoff Weekend having won five consecutive home openers, the longest active streak among AFC teams

The Chicago Bears (65-27-4), who host Philadelphia in Week 2 on Monday Night Football, have a .707 winning percentage in home openers, the second-best mark in the NFL

The Dallas Cowboys, without Tony Romo (back) begin the year by hosting the New York Giants with a 38-17-1 (.691) record in openers at home, the fourth-best winning percentage in NFL history.

HEAD COACHES: New England’s Bill Belichick is 14-7 (.667) on Kickoff Weekend and his 14 wins are the most among active head coaches…Belichick and Los Angeles’ Jeff Fisher (12-8; .600) are the only active head coaches who have won at least 10 Kickoff Weekend games and own an opening weekend winning percentage above .500… Denver’s Gary Kubiak (6-3) and Buffalo’s Rex Ryan (6-1) have each won five consecutive games on Kickoff Weekend, the longest current streak among active head coaches New York Jets’ Todd Bowles (1-0) of the Jets, Cleveland’s Hue Jackson (1-0) and Atlanta’s Dan Quinn (1-0) are the only active head coaches with perfect records on Kickoff Weekend.

As for new men roaming the sideline, there will be five – Miami’s Adam Gase, Tampa Bay’s Dirk Koetter, the New York Giants’ Ben McAdoo, Philadelphia’s Doug Pederson and Tennessee’s Mike Mularkey – make their Kickoff Weekend debuts in 2016.

The 2016 regular-season schedule – spanning 17 weeks and 256 games – kicked off Thursday evening in Denver and conclude on Sunday, January 1 with 16 division games. The Denver-Carolina contest marked the first time that a Super Bowl rematch took place on Kickoff Weekend since 1970, when the Chiefs and Vikings met.

Week 1 is a FOX national weekend with the key doubleheader game on Sunday, September 11 at 4:25 p.m. featuring the New York Giants at the Dallas Cowboys in a clash between NFC East rivals. Among the highlights in the 1 p.m. ET window on Kickoff Weekend is the New York Jets at home on September 11 hosting the Cincinnati Bengals on CBS.

NBC’s Sunday Night Football gets underway on September 11 when the Arizona Cardinals host the New England Patriots at 8:30 p.m. at University of Phoenix Stadium. Both clubs advanced to the Conference Championship Game last season.

Monday night fans? You haven’t been left out. There are going to be two MNF games in the first week.

Kickoff Weekend concludes on Monday, September 12 with an ESPN Monday Night Football doubleheader. The Washington Redskins will host the Pittsburgh Steelers at 7:10 p.m. in the first game followed by the return of the Los Angeles Rams, who visit the San Francisco 49ers in the nightcap at 10:20 p.m.

As for Monday night, ESPN will be the place to be for football and they will televise one game each Monday night in Weeks 2-16. There will be no Monday night game on the final regular-season weekend (Week 17) to provide more flexibility for the scheduling of the opening weekend of the NFL playoffs. ESPN will also broadcast the Pro Bowl on Sunday, January 29 at 8 p.m. which will be played at Orlando’s Camping World Stadium.

A select number of games will be “cross-flexed,” moving between CBS and FOX to bring potentially under-distributed games to wider audiences. Some of those contests have already been announced, including the Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions (12:30 p.m., CBS) on Thanksgiving Day and the Philadelphia Eagles at Seattle Seahawks (4:25 p.m. CBS) in Week 11 (Sunday, November 20). Other “cross-flexed” games will be decided during the season.

Other highlights of the 2016 schedule include:

In Week 2, the Rams will return home to Los Angeles when they host the Seattle Seahawks at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Sunday afternoon (4:05 p.m., FOX). That night in primetime (8:30 p.m., NBC), the Minnesota Vikings will open their new home – U.S. Bank Stadium – when they host the rival Green Bay Packers.

On Monday night, September 26, the New Orleans Saints will host the Atlanta Falcons at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The game will commemorate the 10th anniversary of the reopening of the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina when the Saints defeated the Falcons 23-3 on Monday night, September 25, 2006.

Thanksgiving will feature a tripleheader on Thursday, November 24. The first game will send the Minnesota Vikings to Detroit to face the Lions at 12:30 p.m. on CBS. The late afternoon game will feature the Washington Redskins visiting the Dallas Cowboys at 4:30 p.m. on FOX in an NFC East matchup and the holiday concludes with the Indianapolis Colts hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers on NBC at 8:30 p.m.

In Week 16, the majority of games will be played on Saturday, December 24 due to the Christmas holiday, highlighted by a primetime matchup on NFL Network between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Houston Texans at 8:25 p.m. There will be two games played on Christmas – the Pittsburgh Steelers hosting the Baltimore Ravens on NFL Network at 4:30 p.m. followed by the Denver Broncos visiting the Kansas City Chiefs on NBC at 8:30 p.m.

Get that passport ready! The NFL will continue its International Series of regular-season games with three games being played in London and the league’s return to Mexico City. On Sunday, October 2, the Jacksonville Jaguars will host the Indianapolis Colts at London’s Wembley Stadium at 9:30 a.m. on CBS (Be sure to set the DVR in case you have an early church service!). In the first-ever NFL game at Twickenham Stadium, the Los Angeles Rams will host the New YorkGiants on Sunday, October 23 at 9:30 a.m. on NFL Network. The following week, the Cincinnati Bengals will host the Washington Redskins at Wembley at 9:30 a.m. on FOX and the ). The NFL will return to Mexico City on Monday, November 21 (8:30 p.m. ESPN) when the Oakland Raiders host the Houston Texans in the first-ever Monday Night Football game to be played outside the United States.

This season, the NFL will use a “Tri-Cast” distribution model of broadcast (CBS/NBC), cable (NFL Network) and digital  (Twitter) for 10 Thursday Night Football games. CBS and NBC will each broadcast five Thursday Night Football games which will be simulcast on NFL Network and streamed to a global audience across devices for free on Twitter. CBS will start in Week 2 Thursday, September 15) with the Buffalo Bills hosting the New York Jets at 8:30 p.m. and NBC’s package begins in Week 11 (Thursday, November 17) with the New Orleans Saints travel to the Tar Heel State for a meeting with the Carolina Panthers at  8:25 p.m. Additionally, NFL Network will also exclusively televise an eight-game schedule comprised of four Thursday Night Football games, two late-season Saturday contests, a Sunday morning London matchup and a Christmas Day game.

The NFL’s 32 teams will each play 16 games over 17 weeks. Byes will begin in Week 4 and end in Week 13.

“Flexible scheduling” will be used in Weeks 10-15 and 17. Additionally, in Weeks 5-9, flexible scheduling may be used in no more than two weeks. In Weeks 5-15, the schedule lists the games tentatively set for Sunday Night Football on NBC. Only Sunday afternoon games are eligible to be moved to Sunday night, in which case the tentatively scheduled Sunday night game would be moved to an afternoon start time. Flexible scheduling will not be applied to games airing on Thursday, Saturday or Monday nights.

A flexible scheduling move would be announced at least 12 days before the game. For Week 17, the Sunday night game will be announced no later than six days prior to January 1. The schedule does not list a Sunday night game in Week 17 but an afternoon game with playoff implications will be moved to that time slot. Flexible scheduling ensures quality matchups in all Sunday time slots in those weeks and gives “surprise” teams a chance to play their way into prime time.

The playoffs will include four division winners and two wild cards from each conference. The playoffs begin with Wild Card Weekend on Saturday and Sunday, January 7-8. The two division winners with the best records in each conference will earn first round byes.

Wild Card Weekend winners join the top two division champions in each conference in the Divisional Playoffs on Saturday and Sunday, January 14-15. The AFC and NFC Championship Games will be played on Sunday, January 22. The winners meet two weeks later on Sunday, February 5 in Super Bowl LI at Houston’s NRG Stadium (FOX).

The Pro Bowl will be played on Sunday, January 29 at 8 p.m. on ESPN at Orlando’s Camping World Stadium. The NFL is the only sports league that presents all regular-season and postseason games on free, over-the-air television in local markets. All postseason games are televised nationally.

The regular season will conclude with Week 17 on Sunday, January 1. For the seventh consecutive year, all 16 games scheduled for Week 17 are division contests, enhancing the potential for more games with playoff ramifications. Additionally, over the final three weeks there are 33 division games, tied for the most in NFL history.

What to look for as far as teams are concerned in 2016?

The New York Giants need three victories to become the third team in NFL history with 700 total victories. The Giants (697-591-33) would join Chicago (758-573-42) and Green Bay (752-568-37) as the only teams to accomplish the feat. Their stadium mates, the New York Jets, need one victory to reach 400 total victories. The Jets’ all-time record is 399-470-8. The Houston Texans need one victory to reach 100 total victories. Houston’s all-time record is 99-129.

As far as players go…

Drew Brees, QB-New Orleans, needs 459 passing yards to surpass Dan Marino (61,361) for the third-most all-time. In 15 seasons, Brees has 60,903 passing yards.

Brees can extend his NFL record streak of consecutive seasons with at least 30 touchdown passes. Brees has passed for at least 30 touchdowns in each of the past eight seasons.

Brees can become the first player to lead the league in passing yards seven times in his career. Sonny Jurgensen (5) and Dan Marino (5) are tied for the second-most such seasons in NFL history. Brees has led the NFL in passing yards six times.

Brees needs two 400-yard passing games to surpass Peyton Manning (14) for the most all-time. In 15 seasons, Brees has 13 400-yard passing games.

Brees can extend his NFL record of 300-yard passing games. In 15 seasons, Brees has 96 300-yard passing games. Brees has led the league in touchdown passes four times in his career and can become the only player to lead the league in touchdown passes five times.

Brees has led the league in completions four times and can join Dan Marino (6) and Sammy Baugh (5) as the only players to lead the league in completions at least five times.

Brees has led the league in pass attempts three times in his career and can join Dan Marino (5) Sammy Baugh (4), Johnny Unitas (4) and George Blanda (4) as the only players to lead the league in attempts at least four times.

TOM BRADY, QB-New England, needs seven wins to surpass Peyton Manning (200) and Brett Favre (199) for the most overall (regular season and postseason) wins by a quarterback in NFL history. In 16 seasons, Brady has 194 overall wins.

Brady needs 3,334 passing yards to surpass Dan Marino (61,361) for the third-most all-time. In 16 seasons, Brady has 58,028 passing yards. Brady has led the league in touchdown passes four times in his career and can become the only player to lead the league in touchdown passes five times.

ELI MANNING, QB-New York Giants, needs six touchdown passes to become the eighth player in NFL history to reach 300 career touchdown passes. In 12 seasons, Manning has 294 touchdown passes.

PHILIP RIVERS, QB-San Diego, has led the league in average yards per pass three times in his career and can join Steve Young (5) and Sid Luckman (7) as the only players in NFL history to do so in at least four seasons.

Rivers needs seven 400-yard passing games to surpass Peyton Manning (14) for the most all-time. In 12 seasons, Rivers has eight 400-yard passing games (see Brees, Palmer and Roethlisberger note).

Rivers needs 19 touchdown passes to become the eighth player in NFL history to reach 300 career touchdown passes. In 12 seasons, Rivers has 281 touchdown passes.

CARSON PALMER, QB-Arizona, needs seven 400-yard passing games to surpass Peyton Manning (14) for the most all-time. In 13 seasons, Palmer has eight 400-yard passing games.

Palmer needs 41 touchdown passes to become the eighth player in NFL history to reach 300 career touchdown passes. In 13 seasons, Palmer has 259 touchdown passes.

BEN ROETHLISBERGER, QB-Pittsburgh, needs seven 400-yard passing games to surpass Peyton Manning (14) for the most all-time. In 12 seasons, Roethlisberger has eight 400-yard passing games

Roethlisberger needs 28 touchdown passes to become the eighth player in NFL history to reach 300 career touchdown passes. In 12 seasons, Roethlisberger has 272 touchdown passes.

AARON RODGERS, QB-Green Bay, needs 43 touchdown passes to become the eighth player in NFL history to reach 300 career touchdown passes. In 11 seasons, Rodgers has 257 touchdown passes.

ADRIAN PETERSON, RB-Minnesota, needs 10 rushing touchdowns to join LaDainian Tomlinson (9) as the only players in NFL history to rush for 10 touchdowns in at least nine different seasons. Peterson is currently tied with Emmitt Smith (8).

Peterson has six 200-yard rushing games, tied with O.J. Simpson (6) for the most all-time. Peterson needs one 200-yard rushing game to move into sole possession of first place in NFL history.

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

Peterson needs 2,010 rushing yards to surpass LaDainian Tomlinson (13,684) for the fifth-most all-time. In nine seasons, Peterson has 11,675 rushing yards.

Peterson has led the league in rushing yards three times in his career and can become the sixth player to lead the league in rushing yards four times.

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

LARRY FITZGERALD, WR-Arizona, needs 85 receptions to surpass Jason Witten (1,020), Isaac Bruce (1,024), Andre Johnson (1,053), Reggie Wayne (1,070), Terrell Owens (1,078), Tim Brown (1,094), Cris Carter (1,101) and Marvin Harrison (1,102) for the third-most all-time. In 12 seasons, Fitzgerald has 1,018 receptions.

Fitzgerald needs two touchdown receptions to become the 10th player in NFL history with 100 touchdown catches. In 12 seasons, Fitzgerald has 98 touchdown receptions.

BRANDON MARSHALL, WR-New York Jets, can extend his NFL record of seasons with 100 receptions to seven. Andre Johnson and Wes Welker are the only other players with at least five 100-reception seasons.

ANTONIO GATES, TE-San Diego, needs eight touchdown receptions to surpass Tony Gonzalez (111) for the most career touchdown receptions by a tight end. In 13 seasons, Gates has 104 touchdown receptions.

ROB GRONKOWSKI, TE-New England, has three seasons with at least 1,000 receiving yards and can join Tony Gonzalez (4) and Jason Witten (4) as the only tight ends with at least four seasons with 1,000 receiving yards.

Gronkowski can extend his NFL record of five seasons with at least 10 touchdown receptions by a tight end.

JASON WITTEN, TE-Dallas, needs 83 receptions to surpass Isaac Bruce (1,024), Andre Johnson (1,053), Reggie Wayne (1,070), Terrell Owens (1,078), Tim Brown (1,094), Cris Carter (1,101) and Marvin Harrison (1,102) for the third-most all-time. In 13
seasons, Witten has 1,020 receptions.

JULIUS PEPPERS, LB-Green Bay, needs 14 sacks to become the fourth player with 150 sacks since the sack became an official statistic in 1982. In 14 seasons, Peppers has 136 sacks.

DE MARCUS WARE, LB-Denver, has led the league in sacks twice in his career and can become the first player to lead the league three times since the sack became an official statistic in 1982.

Ware needs 7.5 sacks to surpass Jared Allen (136), Julius Peppers (136), Richard Dent (137.5), John Randle (137.5), Jason Taylor (139.5) and Michael Strahan (141.5) for the fifth-most sacks since the sack became an official statistic in 1982. In 11 seasons, Ware has 134.5 sacks.

J.J. WATT, LB-Houston, can increase his NFL record total of 20-sack seasons. In five seasons, Watt has two seasons with 20 sacks.

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

AQIB TALIB, CB-Denver, needs two interception-return touchdowns to become the fourth player with 10 all-time. In eight seasons, Talib has eight interception-return touchdowns.

ADAM VINATIERI, K-Indianapolis, needs 36 field goals to surpass Gary Anderson (538) for the second-most all-time. In 20 seasons, Vinatieri has 503 field goals.

Vinatieri needs 44 field goal attempts to surpass George Blanda (641) for the third-most attempted field goals all-time. In 20 seasons, Vinatieri has 598 field goal attempts.

Vinatieri needs 182 points to surpass Gary Anderson (2,434) for the second-most points scored all-time. In 20 seasons, Vinatieri has 2,253 points (742-pat, 503-fg, 1 2-pt).

STEPHEN GOSTKOWSKI, K-New England, has led the league in scoring five times in his career and can surpass Don Hutson (5) and Gino Cappelletti (5) as the only player to lead the league in points scored at least six times.

Gostkowski has led the league in scoring for four consecutive seasons (2012-15) and can join Don Hutson (5) as the only players to lead the league in scoring for five consecutive seasons.

Gostkowski has led the league in field goals three times in his career and can join Lou Groza (5), Ward Cuff (4), Jack Manders (4) and Mark Moseley (4) as the only players to lead the league in field goals at least four times.

SEBASTIAN JANIKOWSKI, K-Oakland, has 52 50-yard field goals, tied with Jason Hanson (52) for the most all-time. Janikowski needs one 50-yard field goal to move into sole possession of first place in NFL history.

As for the coaches? There are some milestones that four current coaches will want to reach in 2016…

BILL BELICHICK, New England, needs four victories to join Don Shula (347), George Halas (324) and Tom Landry (270) as the only coaches to reach 250 career wins. In 21 seasons, Belichick has 246 career victories.

MIKE TOMLIN, Pittsburgh, needs two victories to reach 100 career victories. In nine seasons, Tomlin has 98 career victories.

SEAN PAYTON, New Orleans, needs seven victories to reach 100 career victories. In 10 seasons, Payton has 93 career victories.

JOHN HARBAUGH, Baltimore, needs 13 victories to reach 100 career victories. In eight seasons, Harbaugh has 87 career victories.

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

Of the 554 teams which won openers…288 went to the playoffs (173 won division titles).
Of the 555 teams which lost openers…134 went to the playoffs (77 won division titles).

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

In 2015, seven of the 12 playoff teams – Arizona, Carolina, Cincinnati, Denver, Green Bay, Kansas City and New England – were victorious on Kickoff Weekend.

SCORING REACHED RECORD HIGHS IN 2015: A total of 11,680 points were scored in 2015, the second-highest total all-time (11,985 in 2013). And there were 1,318 total touchdowns scored, the second-most ever (1,338 in 2013).

YEAR – TOTAL POINTS SCORED
2013 – 11,985
2015 – 11,680
2012 – 11,651
2014 – 11,565
2011 – 11,356
2010 – 12,283

YEAR – TOTAL TOUCHDOWNS
2013 – 1,338
2015 – 1,318
2012 – 1,297
2014 – 1,293
2002 – 1,270
2010 – 1,270

Nine teams scored at least 400 points in 2015 – Carolina (500), Arizona (489), New England (465), Pittsburgh (423), Seattle (423), New York Giants (420), Cincinnati (419), New Orleans (408) and Kansas City (405) – tying the 2009, 2012 and 2014 seasons for the second-most all-time. Those nine teams combined for a .667 winning percentage and seven of those clubs qualified for the playoffs.

Led by the NFC South champion Carolina Panthers, who finished 15-1 and scored an NFL-high 500 points on their way to an appearance in Super Bowl 50, many of the NFL’s top-scoring offenses translated those points into wins.

“To see how explosive we are and the points we’ve scored is special,” says Panthers head coach Ron Rivera. “You don’t know if you are going to be a high-scoring team when you start but that had a lot to do with our success. When teams have been together a while, it allows them to have continuity to develop offenses and have it morph into fitting around each other’s skill sets, then good things happen.”

The teams that scored at least 400 points in 2015:

TEAM (POINTS) W-L-T , PCT.
Carolina (500) 15-1, .938*
Arizona (489) 13-3, 813*
New England (485) 12-4, .750*
Pittsburgh (423) 10-6, .625*
Seattle (423) 10-6, .625*
New York Giants (420) 6-10, .375
Cincinnati (419) 12-4*
New Orleans (408); 7-9, .438
Kansas City (405); 11-5, .688*
*Playoff team

BEST KICKOFF WEEKEND PERFORMANCES, PAST 10 YEARS

MOST YARDS RUSHING (YARDS on Carries; Longest, TD)
Arian Foster, Houston vs. Indianapolis, 9/12/10 (231 yards on 33 carries; longest – 42, 3 TDS)
Michael Turner, Atlanta vs. Detroit, 9/7/08 (220 yards on 22 carries; longest 66t, 2 TDS)
LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia vs. Washington, 9/9/13 (184 yards on 31 carries; longest – 34t, TD)
Adrian Peterson, Minnesota vs. Cleveland, 9/13/09 (180 yards on 25 carries; longest – 64t, 3 TD)
Chris Brown, Tennessee vs. Jacksonville, 9/9/07 (175 yards on 19 carries; longest – 42)
C.J. Spiller, Buffalo vs. New York Jets, 9/9/12 (169 yards on 14 carries; longeest – 56t, TD)
Carlos Hyde, San Francisco vs. Minnesota, 9/14/15 (168 yards on 26; longest – 18, 2 TD)
Darren McFadden, Oakland vs. Denver, 9/12/11 (150 yards on 22 carries; longest – 47)
Mike Bell, New Orleans vs. Detroit, 9/13/09 (143 yards on 28 carries; longest – 22)
Matt Forté, Chicago vs. Green Bay, 9/13/15 (141 yards on 24 carries; longest – 23, TD)

MOST YARDS PASSING (Yards, Completions-Attempts, TDs, Interceptions)
Tom Brady, New England vs. Miami, 9/12/11 (517 yards, 32 of 48; 4 TDS, INT)
Peyton Manning, Denver vs. Baltimore, 9/5/13 (462 yards, 27 of 42, 7 TDS)
Eli Manning, New York Giants vs. Dallas, 9/8/13 (450 yards, 27 of 42, 4 TDS, 3 INT)
Matt Ryan, Atlanta vs. New Orleans, 9/7/14 (448 yards, 31 of 43, 3 TDS)
Peyton Manning, Indianapolis vs. Houston, 9/12/10 (433 yards, 40 of 57, 3 TDS)
Cam Newton, Carolina vs. Arizona, 9/11/11 (422 yards, 24 of 37, 2 TDS, INT)
Drew Brees, New Orleans vs. Green Bay, 9/8/11 (419 yards, 32 of 49, 3 TDS)
Chad Henne, Miami vs. New England, 9/12/11 (416 yards, 30 of 49, 2 TDS, INT)
Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco vs. Green Bay, 9/8/13 (412 yards, 27 of 39, 3 TDS)
Philip Rivers, San Diego vs. Detroit, 9/13/15 (403 yards, 34 of 41, 2 TDS, 2 INT)

MOST YARDS RECEIVING (YARDS, CATCHES, LONGEST, TDS)
Anquan Boldin, San Francisco vs. Green Bay, 9/8/13 (208 yards on 13 catches, longest – 43, TD)
Randy Moss, New England vs. New York Jets, 9/9/07 (183 yards on 9 catches, longest – 51t, TD)
Steve Smith, Carolina vs. Arizona, 9/11/11 (178 yards on 8 catches, longest – 77t, 2 TDS)
Keenan Allen, San Diego vs. Detroit, 9/13/15 (166 yards on 15 catches, longest – 21)
Calvin Johnson, Detroit vs. New York Giants, 9/8/14 (164 yards on 7 catches, longest – 67t, 2 TDS)
Austin Collie, Indianapolis vs. Houston, 9/12/10 (163 yards on 11 catches, longest – 73t, TD)
A.J. Green, Cincinnati vs. Chicago, 9/8/13 (162 yards on 9 catches, longest – 45t, 2 TDS)
Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis vs. Jacksonville, 9/13/09 (162 yards on 10 catches, longest – 39, TD)
Antwaan Randle El, Washington vs. Miami, 9/9/07 (162 yards on 5 catches, longest – 54)
Demaryius Thomas, Denver vs. Baltimore, 9/5/13 (161 yards on 5 catches, longest – 78t, 2 TDS)

Please return your trays to the upright position… there will be a lot of travel for all 32 teams in the 2016 campaign and the majority of that will be in the skies of the United States. With three trips to London and a trip to Mexico, NFL teams will be able to get some of those frequent flier miles in. Here’s a look at the total miles that all 32 teams will travel and the notes on travel for the 2016 season.

TOTAL MILES TRAVELED & NOTES ON 2016 TRAVEL (2016 regular season)

1. Los Angeles – 35,952
2. Oakland – 31,622
3. Seattle – 27,766
4. San Francisco – 25,668
5. Miami – 25,548
6. Jacksonville – 23,676
7. San Diego – 23,410
8. Arizona – 21,288
9. Carolina – 19,476
10. New England – 19,336
11. Tampa Bay – 19,288
12. Indianapolis – 18,960
13. Dallas – 18,406
14. Buffalo – 18,370
15. Atlanta – 18,352
16. Denver – 16,874
17. Cincinnati – 16,868
18. New Orleans – 16,460
19. Washington – 16,382
20. New York Jets – 16,158
21. Houston – 15,318
22. New York Giants – 15,196
23. Kansas City – 13,440
24. Minnesota – 11,652
25. Philadelphia – 11,202
26. Tennessee – 10,614
27. Detroit – 9,518
28. Green Bay – 9,050
29. Chicago – 8,766
30. Baltimore – 7,084
31. Cleveland – 6,074
32. Pittsburgh – 5,142

•The total distance traveled by all teams during the regular season will be 552,916 miles.
•The teams of the NFC West (100,674) have the highest combined mileage total of all divisions.
•The remaining division totals ranking from highest to lowest are the AFC West (85,346), AFC East (79,412), NFC South (73,576), AFC South (68,568), NFC East (61,186), NFC North (38,986) and AFC North (35,168).
•Five teams – Los Angeles (35,952), Oakland (31,622), Seattle (27,766), San Francisco (25,668) and Miami (25,548) – will “travel around the world” at least once. A trip around the globe is 25,000 miles.

Eight teams (Indianapolis, Jacksonville, New York Giants, Los Angeles, Washington, Cincinnati, Oakland and Houston) will play contests outside of the United States this year. Get those passports ready.

NFL RATCHETS UP THE EXCITEMENT…HOPE IS ALIVE: The 2015 season was full of excitement but that should be no surprise. Unpredictability is the norm in today’s NFL.

Many close games and great comeback victories…new teams making the playoffs and winning divisions…records falling…and so much more.

“What people love about the NFL,” New Orleans Saints Pro Bowl quarterback Drew Brees told the Times-Picayune and the Mobile Register, “is that every game, every week, no matter who is playing, anything
can happen. So many games come down to that last possession.”

The NFL is never short on surprises and the 2015 season was no different.

The 2015 season featured many exciting games with close finishes, as nearly 55 percent were decided by one score – 140 of 256 games were decided by eight or fewer points, the most of any season since the NFL adopted the two-point conversion in 1994.

Comeback victories were also a trend. In 2015, there were 67 games in which the winning team trailed at some point in the fourth quarter, tied for the third-most such games in a single season in NFL history.

The 2016 season promises more of the same. Every team enters the new year with hope.

Four teams that missed the postseason in 2014 – Kansas City (11-5), Minnesota (10-5), Houston (9-7) and Washington (9-7) – advanced to the 2015 playoffs. Since the 12-team playoff format was adopted in 1990, at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before.

The Redskins rebounded to win the NFC East division title after finishing in last place in 2014, which marked the 12th time in the past 13 seasons that one or more teams went from last or tied for last place to a division championship the following year.

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

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

BEST OPENING MONTH RECORDS, PAST 10 YEARS

Getting off to a strong start is important. Over the past 10 years, nine teams have a winning percentage of at least .600 through the season’s first month. Those nine clubs have combined for 58 playoff berths and 12 Super Bowl appearances – including four Super Bowl championships – during that span.

The nine teams with a .600+ winning percentage in the opening month over the past 10 seasons (2006-15):

TEAM (Record, Pct.)
New England (24-9-0, .727)
Denver (23-11-0. .676)
Dallas (22-11-0. .667)
Baltimore (22-12-0, .647)
Green Bay (22-12-0, .647)
Arizona (21-13-0, .618)
Cincinnati (20-13-0, .606)
Indianapolis (20-13-0, .606)
Seattle (20-13-0, .606)

DIVISION TITLES? UP FOR GRABS: Unpredictable NFL? It sure seems that way! In the 14 seasons since realignment in 2002, 28 different teams have won division titles.

“It’s great to win the division,” said Houston defensive end J.J. Watt, who helped lead the Texans to the AFC South title last season. He told the Housotn Chronicle, KPRC-TV and KHOU-TV, “It’s great for our team, great for our fans, it’s great for our city. This is what we expect. We expect to win the division, we expect to be in the playoffs.”

Last year, Minnesota head coach Mike Zimmer guided the Vikings to their first division title since 2009.

“I’m proud of this football team,” Zimmer told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “We started out two years ago trying to build something special. I told them it’s not a surprise that we are where we’re at and now we’ve made the playoffs.”

The teams that have won their divisions in the 14 seasons since realignment in 2002:

TEAM – DIVISION TITLES/PLAYOFF BERTHS
New England – 12/12
Indianapolis – 9/12
Green Bay – 8/11
Seattle – 7/10
Pittsburgh – 6/9
Denver – 6/8
Philadelphia – 6/8
Carolina – 5/6
San Diego – 5/6
Baltimore – 4/8
Cincinnati – 4/7
Atlanta – 3/6
New York Giants – 3/6
New Orleans – 3/5
Dallas – 3/5
Minnesota – 3/5
Arizona – 3/4
San Francisco – 3/4
Chicago – 3/3
Houston – 3/3
Tampa Bay – 3/3
Kansas City – 2/3
Tennessee – 2/4
Washington – 2/4
New York Jets – 1/5
Los Angeles – 1/2
Miami – 1/1
Oakland – 1/1

2016 NFL STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE

Team (Opponents’ 2015 Pct. & Record; Games vs. teams .500 or better-Games vs. 2015 playoff teams)
Atlanta (.555; 142-114; 7-7)
San Francisco (.555; 142-114; 9-6)
Los Angeles (.551; 141-115; 9-6)
New Orleans (.547; 140-116; 8-6)
Seattle (.543; 139-117; 8-5)
Tampa Bay (.543; 139-117; 8-6)
Arizona (.531; 136-120; 9-6)
New York Jets (.531; 136-120; 10-7)
New England (.523; 134-122; 10-6)
Buffalo (.520; 133-123; 8-6)
Miami (.516; 132-124; 10-6)
Carolina (.512; 131-125; 8-6)
San Diego (.508; 130-126; 8-6)
Denver (.504; 129-127; 8-6)
Oakland (.500; 128-128; 9-6)
Kansas City (.496; 127-129; 8-5)
Washington (.492; 126-130; 6-6)
Minnesota (.488; 125-131; 7-6)
Baltimore (.484; 124-132; 8-6)
Houston (.484; 124-132; 8-6)
Cleveland (.480; 123-133; 8-6)
Indianapolis (.477; 122-134; 8-7)
Jacksonville (.473; 121-135; 9-6)
Pittsburgh (.473; 121-135; 8-5)
Tennessee (.473; 121-135; 8-6)
Philadelphia (.469; 120-136; 8-7)
Cincinnati (.465; 119-137; 8-6)
Dallas (.465: 119-137; 6-6)
Detroit (.465; 119-137; 7-6)
Chicago (.461; 118-138; 7-6)
New York Giants (.461; 118-138; 6-6)
Green Bay (.457; 117-139; 7-5)

WINNING IS A HABIT: Thirty-nine of the 50 Super Bowl champions (78 percent) finished the preseason with a winning percentage of at least .500. Last year, the Denver Broncos finished the preseason 3-1 en route to winning Super Bowl 50.

Since 2000, the 16 Super Bowl champions have combined for a 41-23 (.641) preseason record during their championship seasons.

FROM WORST TO FIRST: Competitive balance, one of the hallmarks of the NFL, gives fans hope entering each season. So yes, there is hope if your team faltered last year.

For the 12th time in the past 13 seasons, at least one team finished in first place in its division the season after finishing in last or tied for last place. In fact, of the 43 teams in league history to go from “worst-to-first,” 20 of them have done so in the past 13 years (2003-15), including an NFL-record three such teams in 2005 and 2006.

After finishing in last place in the division in 2014, the Washington Redskins won their final four games to close the 2015 campaign and claim the NFC East crown. After starting the season 2-4, the Redskins qualified for postseason play for the first time since 2012.

“I’m very satisfied to see how the tables turned,” Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins told WUSA TV and USA Today about the team’s turnaround last season. “Now we look forward and say: ‘Where can we go from here?’ and ‘How high can we take it?’”

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

SEASON – TEAM (RECORD, PRIOR SEASON RECORD)
2003 – Carolina (11-5, 7-9)
2003 – Kansas City (13-3, 8-8)*
2004 – Atlanta (11-5, 5-11)
2004 – San Diego (12-4, 4-12)*
2005 – Chicago (11-5, 5-11)
2005 – New York Giants (11-5, 6-10)*
2005 – Tampa Bay (11-5, 5-11)
2006 – Baltimore (13-3, 6-10)*
2006 – New Orleans (10-6, 3-13)
2006 – Philadelphia (10-6, 6-10)
2007 – Tampa Bay (9-7, 4-12)
2008 – Miami (11-5, 5-11)
2009 – New Orleans (13-3, 8-8)**
2010 – Kansas City (10-6, 4-12)
2011 – Denver (8-8, 4-12)
2011 – Houston (10-6, 6-10)*
2012 – Washington (10-6, 5-11)
2013 – Carolina (12-4, 7-9)*
2013 – Philadelphia (10-6, 4-12)
2015 – Washington (9-7, 4-12)
* Tied for last place
** Won Super Bowl

KICKOFF WEEKEND RECORDS OF NFL HEAD COACHES

COACH, TEAM (W-L, Pct)
Todd Bowles, New York Jets (1-0, 1.000)
Jack Del Rio, Oakland (5-5, .500)
Hue Jackson, Cleveland (1-0, 1.000)
John Fox, Chicago (7-7, .500)
Dan Quinn, Atlanta (1-0, 1.000)
Bill O’Brien, Houston (1-1, .500)
Rex Ryan, Buffalo (6-1 .857)
Mike Zimmer, Minnesota (1-1, .500)
Bruce Arians, Arizona (2-1, .667)
Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati (6-7, .462)
Bill Belichick, New England (14-7, .667)
Jim Caldwell, Detroit (2-3, .400)
Chip Kelly, San Francisco (2-1, .667)
Ron Rivera, Carolina (2-3, .400)
Gary Kubiak, Denver (6-3, .667)
Mike McCoy, San Diego (1-2, .333)
John Harbaugh, Baltimore (5-3, .625)
Mike Mularkey, Tennessee (1-2, .333)
Pete Carroll, Seattle (6-4, .600)
Chuck Pagano, Indianapolis (1-3, .250)
Jeff Fisher, Los Angeles (12-8, .600)
Gus Bradley, Jacksonville (0-3, .000)
Mike McCarthy, Green Bay (6-4, .600)
Jay Gruden, Washington (0-2, .000)
Jason Garrett, Dallas (3-2, .600)
Adam Gase, Miami (0-0, .000)
Sean Payton, New Orleans (5-4, .556)
Dirk Koetter, Tampa Bay (0-0, .000)
Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh (5-4, .556)
Ben McAdoo, New York Giants (0-0, .000)
Andy Reid, Kansas City, (9-8, .529)
Doug Pederson, Philadelphia (0-0, .000)

THE NFL IS SO UNPREDICTABLE THAT IN 2015…

Nothing exhibits the unpredictability of the NFL more than close games:

Games continued to be this close. If you like your football close, then 2015 was the season for you. In 2015, 131 of 256 games (51.2 percent) were decided by seven points or fewer, the most of any season in NFL history.

SEASON – MOST GAMES DECIDED BY SEVEN OR FEWER POINTS
2015 – 131
2002 – 126
2011 – 125
2003 – 124
2013 – 123

Last season, 140 of 256 games (54.7 percent) were decided by eight points or fewer, the most since the NFL adopted the two-point conversion in 1994.

GAMES DECIDED BY ONE SCORE IN 2015

POINTS – GAMES (Pct.)
8 or Fewer – 140 of 256 (54.7 pct.)
7 or Fewer – 131 of 255 (51.2 pct.)
3 or Fewer – 59 of 256 (23 pct.)

Sixty-eight percent of games (174 of 256) in 2015 were within one score in the fourth quarter. The 174 such games are tied for the third-most of any season in NFL history.

SEASON – MOST GAMES WITHIN ONE SCORE IN FOURTH QUARTER
2002 – 177
2004 – 175
2015 – 174
2013 – 174
2007 – 173

BEST NFL RECORDS, PAST 10 YEARS: Over the past 10 years, four NFL teams – New England (124-36, .775), Green Bay (104-55-1, .653), Indianapolis (104-56, .650) and Pittsburgh (100-60, .625) – have posted a winning percentage of .600 or better. Those four clubs have combined for 31 playoff berths, eight Super Bowl appearances and four Super Bowl championships during that span.

The New England Patriots, under the guidance of head coach Bill Belichick, have the best regular-season record over the past 10 years, qualifying for the postseason nine times and winning Super Bowl XLIX.

“At the end of the day, they find ways to win,” says Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan about the Patriots. “That’s what championship teams do.”

The teams with the best regular-season records over the past 10 seasons (2006-15):

TEAM: W-L-T (Pct.; PLAYOFF BERTHS, SUPER BOWL BERTHS, SUPER BOWL WINS)
New England: 124-36 (.775; 9 Playoff Berths, 3 Super Bowl Berths, 1 Super Bowl win)
Green Bay: 104-55-1 (.653; 8 Playoff Berths, 1 Super Bowl Berth, 1 Super Bowl win)
Indianapolis: 104-56 (.650; 8 Playoff Berths, 2 Super Bowl Berths, 1 Super Bowl win)
Pittsburgh: 100-60 (.625; 6 Playoff Berths, 2 Super Bowl Berths, 1 Super Bowl win)

NEW NFL RULES FOR 2016: Player safety will be the order of the day in 2016. Rule changes are made each season to improve the game and make it safer. Recent rules changes and points of emphasis focused on player safety have resulted in defenders adjusting their target zone and using the proper tackling technique.

In 2015, there were 10 players fined for hits on defenseless players, compared to 40 for the same offense in 2012.

FINES FOR HITS ON DEFENSELESS PLAYERS

SEASON – FINES
2012 – 40
2013 – 25
2014 – 11
2015 – 10

With player health and safety remaining a priority, here are the 2016 rules changes and points of emphasis:

CHOP BLOCK: All chop blocks are now illegal. A chop block is a two-man high-low block in which a defensive player is engaged above the waist by one offensive player and blocked at the thigh or below by a second offensive player. A chop block is a foul whether it occurs on a running play, a pass play or a kicking play.

If it is clear that the defensive player is initiating the contact above the waist, or that the offensive player is trying to slip or escape, then the block is legal.

UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT FOULS: A player that is penalized twice in the same game for certain types of unsportsmanlike conduct fouls will be automatically disqualified.

These types of fouls include:
1. Throwing a punch or kick without making contact
2. Use of abusive or threatening language toward an opponent
3. Any act that constitutes taunting

HORSE COLLAR: The horse collar rule has been expanded for this season. Prior to this change, it was illegal to grab the inside collar of the back or the side of the shoulder pad or jersey and pull the runner toward the ground. Now it will also be illegal to grab the back or side of the jersey at the name plate or above and pull the runner toward the ground. The runner does not have to be pulled all the way to the ground. If his knees are buckled by the action, it is a foul.

This rule does not apply to the quarterback in the pocket or a runner in the tackle box but once the runner leaves the tackle box or the quarterback leaves the pocket the rule is back in effect.

TOUCHBACKS: For the 2016 season, after a touchback resulting from a kickoff or safety kick, the ball will be placed at the receiving team’s 25-yard line.

There will also be points of emphasis on several existing rules this season (although the rules themselves have not changed):

2015 saw an increase in both fouls and fines for low hits on passers. The quarterback in the pocket in a passing posture is protected from forcible contact to the knee area or below. Low hits on passers will result in a  15-yard penalty for roughing the passer as well as potential discipline. Once the quarterback tucks the ball and takes a running posture or moves outside the pocket and throws on the run, he no longer receives protection from hits to the knee area or below.

Rules regarding sliding runners will be emphasized in 2016. A runner gains maximum protection when he slides feet first and before defensive contact is imminent. A runner that slides in this manner is treated like a player on the ground and may not be unnecessarily contacted to any part of his body. If a runner begins his slide after defensive contact is imminent then he loses protection from hits to the body, but the defender must still avoid forcible contact to the head or neck area. If a runner slides sideways or dives head first, he receives no special protection and may be hit anywhere until he is on the ground.

The rule regarding crown of the helmet hits on runners has been clarified for 2016. A defender may not lower his head and make forcible contact with the crown of his helmet to any part of a runner’s body. This rule applies outside the tackle box and a foul will be called regardless of the path the defender takes toward the runner.

Pre-snap movement on the offensive line will be a point of emphasis for the upcoming season as game officials will pay particular attention to movement of the football prior to the snap. Adjusting the football as the center gets into his stance is legal, but once the line is set, any abrupt or significant movement of the ball will result in a five-yard penalty for a false start. In addition, any quick or abrupt movement that is not part of the snap will also result in a false start. However, if the movement is smooth and deliberate, it will be deemed legal. Game officials will work with centers and long snappers during training camp and before each game to establish acceptable standards.

The last point of emphasis will involve blindside blocks on kickoff and punt returns. Any time a blocker is moving in the direction of his own end line, he cannot block his opponent in the head or neck area. These blocks are dangerous and will lead to a 15-yard penalty and potential discipline.

A brief overview of NFL rule changes focused on protecting player health and safety since 1982:

1982 – Hip pads must be covered by the outer uniform.

It is illegal for any player to use the crown or top of his helmet against a passer, a receiver in the act of catching a pass or a runner who is in the grasp of a tackler.

1983 – All mandatory player equipment must be designed and made by a professional manufacturer and cannot be altered, except by direction of the team physician.

A player who uses a helmet he is not wearing as a weapon shall be ejected.

The chop block rule applies to blocks at “thigh or lower.”

1985 – During the last two minutes of a half, the play ends when a quarterback kneels or simulates kneeling on the ground.

The ball is dead when any runner slides to the ground feet first, thereby declaring himself down.

1986 – Blocking below the waist on punts is prohibited during the entire down. The “lure” technique is prohibited. When a tackle shows pass set, a teammate lined up outside him cannot chop a defender who is lined up over the tackle, even if the tackle and defender are not engaged (a “lure”).

1987 – An offensive lineman may not clip a defender who, at the snap, is aligned on the line of scrimmage opposite another offensive lineman who is more than one position away, when the defender is responding to the flow of the ball away from the blocker. Example: A tackle cannot clip the nose tackle on a sweep to the opposite side.

It is illegal for the kicking team to block below the waist after a free kick or punt has been made. (Low blocks by the receiving team became illegal in 1979).

Both teams are prohibited from blocking below the waist after a change of possession.

1989 – A defender (approaching from any direction) who has an unrestricted path to the quarterback is prohibited from flagrantly hitting him in the area of the knee(s).

1990 – A player who butts, spears or rams an opponent may be disqualified if the action is flagrant or vicious.

1991 – Officials will whistle the play dead whenever a defensive lineman clearly penetrates beyond the neutral zone before the ball is snapped and continues unabated toward the quarterback.

1992 – For the first time, the chop block is illegal on some running plays: It is illegal on a running play for an offensive player who is lined up in the backfield at the snap to deliberately block a defensive player in the thigh or lower (chop) if the defensive player is engaged by an offensive player who was on the line of scrimmage at the snap. This action is prohibited whether on or behind the line of scrimmage in an area that extends laterally to the position originally occupied by the tight end on either side.

When a defensive player runs forward and leaps in an attempt to block an extra point or field goal, it is a foul only if the leaping player lands on other players.

1993 – It is not intentional grounding when a passer, while out of the pocket and facing an imminent loss of yardage, throws a pass that lands beyond the line of scrimmage, even if no offensive player has a realistic chance to catch the ball (including if the ball lands out of bounds over the sideline or end line).

1994 – Defensive players are prohibited from blocking low during a punt, field goal or extra point attempt (kick), except those defensive players at the snap that are lined up on or inside the normal tight end position. Previously, all players on the defensive team could block low during the field goal or extra point attempt.

1995 – Protection for defenseless players is clarified and expanded. Since 1982, a defensive player was prohibited from using the crown or top of his helmet against a passer, a receiver in the act of catching a pass, or a runner who is in the grasp of a tackler.

The clarification provided that:

Defenseless players included a kickoff or punt returner attempting to field a kick in the air and a player on the ground at the end of a play.

Defensive players are prohibited from lowering their heads to make forcible contact with the facemask or with the “hairline” or forehead part of the helmet, against an opponent, instead of only with the top/crown.

Defensive players are prohibited from forcibly hitting the defenseless player’s head, neck or face with the helmet or facemask.

Defensive players are prohibited from launching into a defenseless player in a way that causes the defensive player’s helmet or facemask to forcibly strike the defenseless player’s head, neck or face, even if the initial contact of the defender’s helmet or facemask is lower than the defenseless player’s neck.

When tackling a passer during or just after throwing a pass, a defensive player is prohibited from unnecessarily and violently throwing him down and landing on top of him with all or most of the defender’s weight.

1996 – On running plays, a chop block is prohibited by an offensive player who is aligned more than one position away from the engaged defender when the block occurs away from the flow of the play.

A defender cannot be chopped even after he has disengaged from an offensive opponent, if he is still confronting the offensive player.

Prohibition of the “lure” technique is applicable all along the offensive line, instead of only to a player outside a tackle.

1998 – All face shields must be transparent.

1999 – Blocking from behind, at or below the knees in the clipping zone is prohibited.

After a blocking attempt in close line play, a blocker is prohibited from rolling up on the back of a defender’s legs (Unnecessary Roughness).

2002 – The chop block technique is illegal on all kicking plays.

It is illegal to hit a quarterback helmet-to-helmet any time after a change of possession.

2005  – It is illegal to grab the inside collar of the shoulder pads to tackle a runner (“horse-collar tackle”).

Unnecessarily running, diving into or throwing the body against a player who should not have reasonably anticipated such contact by an opponent is unnecessary roughness. Previously, the rule only protected a player who is out of the play.

A kicker/punter must not be unnecessarily contacted by the receiving team through the end of the play or until he assumes a distinctly defensive position. An opponent may not unnecessarily initiate helmet-to-helmet contact to the kicker/punter during the kick or during the return.

An offensive player who is aligned in the tackle box at the snap and moves to a position outside the box is prohibited from initiating contact on the side or below the waist of an opponent if the blocker is moving toward his own end line and approaches the opponent from behind or from the side (“peel back block”). The near shoulder of the blocker must be in front of his opponent’s body.

2006 – Low hits on the quarterback are prohibited when a rushing defender has an opportunity to avoid such contact.

Blocks in the back above the waist by the kicking team while the ball is in flight during a scrimmage kick are illegal.

The definition of a “horse collar tackle” is expanded to include grabbing theinside collar of the jersey.

During a field-goal attempt or a try, a defensive player who is within one yard of the line of scrimmage at the snap must have his helmet outside the snapper’s shoulder pad.

Personal or unsportsmanlike conduct fouls that occur during halftime or during intermission between the fourth period and an overtime period will be penalized on the ensuing kickoff.

During a free kick, at least four kicking team players must be on each side of the kicker when the ball is kicked.

2007 – A block below the waist against an eligible receiver while the quarterback is in the pocket is a 15-yard penalty instead of a 5-yard penalty (an illegal cut block).

2009 – Teams are not permitted to intentionally form a wedge of more than two players on a kickoff return in an attempt to block for the runner.

The “bunch” formation on kickoffs is eliminated. The kickoff team must have at least three players outside each hash mark, one of whom must be outside the yard-line number.

It is an illegal “blindside” block if the blocker is moving toward his own endline and approaches the opponent from behind or from the side and the initial force of the contact by the blocker’s helmet, forearm or shoulder is to the head or neck area of an opponent.

It is an illegal hit on a defenseless receiver if the initial force of the contact by the defender’s helmet, forearm or shoulder is to the head or neck area of the receiver.

The rule regarding low hits on passers is clarified:

A defender cannot initiate a roll or lunge and forcibly hit the passer in theknee area or below, even if he is being contacted by another player.

It is not a foul if the defender swipes, wraps or grabs a passer in the knee area or below in an attempt to tackle him.

2010 – During a field-goal attempt, punt, or try-kick, a defensive team player, who is within one yard of the line of scrimmage at the snap, must have his entire body outside the snapper’s shoulder pads.

After a half has expired, dead ball personal fouls by either team will be enforced on the succeeding kickoff.

A player who has just completed a catch is protected from blows to the head or neck by an opponent who launches.

All “defenseless players” are protected from blows to the head delivered by an opponent’s helmet, forearm or shoulder.

Kickers and punters during the kick and return and quarterbacks after a change of possession, are protected from blows to the head delivered by an opponent’s helmet, forearm or shoulder, instead of just helmet-to-helmet contact.

The ball is declared dead at the spot if a runner’s helmet comes completely off.

2011 – The restraining line for the kicking team is moved from the 30- to the 35-yard line in an effort to increase touchbacks.

All kicking team players other than the kicker must be lined up no more than five yards behind their restraining line, eliminating the 15-20 yard running “head start” that had become customary for many players.

The list of “defenseless players” is expanded to include a kicker/punter during the kick or during the return, a quarterback at any time after a change of possession, and a player who receives a “blindside” block when the blocker is moving toward his own endline and approaches the opponent from behind or from the side. Previously, these players were protected against blows to the head but not against blows delivered by an opponent with the top/crown or forehead/”hairline” parts of the helmet against other parts of the body.

A receiver who has completed a catch is a “defenseless player” until he has had time to protect himself or has clearly become a runner. A receiver/runner is no longer defenseless if he is able to avoid or ward off the impending contact of an opponent. Previously, the receiver who had completed a catch was protected against an opponent who launched and delivered a blow to the receiver’s head.

2012 – The list of “defenseless players” is expanded to include defensive players on crackback blocks, making it illegal to hit them in the head or neck area.

2013 – Players are required to wear protective knee and thigh pads.

It is illegal for a runner or tackler to initiate forcible contact by delivering a blow with the top or crown of his helmet against an opponent when both players are clearly outside the tackle box.

“Peel back” blocks below the waist are illegal inside the tackle box.

The list of “defenseless players” is expanded to include long snappers on field goals and PATs.

The “bunch” formation is eliminated on field goals and PATs. No more than six defenders may be on the line of scrimmage on either side of the snapper at the snap for these plays.

2014 – Clipping and unnecessary roughness penalties are expanded to prohibit blockers from rolling up on the side of a defender’s leg.

2015 – Rules prohibiting illegal “peel back” blocks are extended to cover all offensive players.

Offensive backs are prohibited from chopping a defensive player engaged above the waist by another offensive player outside the tackle box.

Defenseless player protections are expanded to cover the intended receiver of a pass in the immediate continuing action following an interception.

When a team presents a punt, field-goal or try kick formation, defenders are prohibited from pushing teammates on the line of scrimmage.

2016 – All chop blocks are prohibited.

The horse collar tackle rule is expanded to include when a defender grabs the jersey at the name plate or above and pulls a runner toward the ground.

In an effort to increase touchbacks, the spot of the next snap after a touchback resulting from a kickoff is moved from the 20- to the 25-yard line.

So the 2016 season got underway last Thursday night with Carolina and Denver getting underway as the last two teams to take the field in the 2015 campaign squared off. It’s a long season and you can’t win the Super Bowl on the first day. 31 other teams are trying to get a Lombardi Trophy of their own, Denver’s trying to keep theirs.

It’s alsk 9/11 weekend as the NFL honors those that died that Tuesday morning in New York City, Washington and the farm field in Pennsylvania.

The National Football League and its clubs will commemorate the 15th anniversary of September 11, 2001 during its games on Sunday. The NFL will feature special tributes to honor those who lost their lives and share an inspirational message of hope, unity and community service and engagement.

Prior to each game this Sunday, fans across the country will see video messages from President Barack Obama and President George W. Bush. Each club will have special guests on field for pregame activities and the playing of the National Anthem.

Among the special guests that clubs are hosting are first responders, community volunteers, hometown heroes and members of the military. In Philadelphia for the 1 p.m. Browns-Eagles game, Vice President Joe Biden will join 120 first responders in holding the American flag during the anthem. President Bush will be in Dallas for the Giants-Cowboys 4:25 p.m. game and will toss the coin accompanied on the field by First Lady Laura Bush and two NYPD officers who responded to the attacks at Ground Zero 15 years ago.

All team coaching staffs will be supplied with 9/11 lapel pins and a special 9/11 decal will be placed on players’ helmets.

The NFL will synch the pregame salutes during the Sunday afternoon CBS and FOX telecasts, followed by the Sunday night game on NBC. The pregame events that will be televised nationally also will be shown on the videoboards in each of the stadiums hosting games that day.

All games in each of the broadcast windows (1 p.m., 4:05/4:25 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., all times are Eastern) will feature the special presidential video message after the coin toss and prior to the playing of the National Anthem.
•1 p.m.: video message featuring President Barack Obama
•4:05 p.m.: video message featuring President Barack Obama
•4:25 p.m.: video message featuring President George W. Bush
•8:30 p.m.: video message featuring both Presidents Obama and Bush

NFL Films taped the presidential messages last month with President Obama at the White House and President Bush at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas.

NFL Network previously announced special programming from NFL Films that will aired Friday night on the events of September 11, 2001.

The one-hour show, narrated by actress Mary McDonald-Lewis, tells the story of how the events impacted the entire NFL and specifically the New York Giants, New York Jets and Washington Redskins, from the decision to cancel the games the following week to personal stories of those directly impacted by the day’s events.

Among the areas covered in September 11th:
•The NFL’s decision to cancel games following the attacks
•Former New England Patriots offensive lineman Joe Andruzzi’s connection to the New York City Fire Department
•The story of Giants’ fan Tony Sichenzio who attended the Giants’ game in Denver on September 10 and was not at his office on the 104th floor of One World Trade Center on September 11, 2001

As for last season, we were 167-89.

The preseason is over. It all starts for real. They’re playing for keeps. Each team will play 16 games and have a bye week to rest up. Who will step up? Who will be the king of the NFL mountain? As ESPN’s Chris Berman says, “that’s why they play the games.”

Having said that, here are the picks for Sunday and Monday’s games in week one.

Tampa Bay (6-10) at ATLANTA (8-8), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 709. A pair of southern rivals open the 2016 campaign in the Big Peach as Tampa Bay makes the 457-mile, seven-hour drive up I-75 to face off against the Atlanta Falcons.

The Dirk Koetter begins as he makes his debut as Tampa Bay head coach, taking over for Lovie Smith. Bucs QB Jameis Winston passed for 4,042 yards in 2015 and was 3rd rookie in NFL history with 4,000+ pass yards. Winston 1 of 3 rookies in NFL history with 3,500+ pass yards (4,042), 20+ pass TDs (22) & 5+ rush TDs (6), meanwhile RB Doug Martin ranked 2nd in NFL with 1,402 rush yards & was 4th in NFL with 1,673 scrimmage yards and has 455 scrimmage yards (91 per game) & 4 TDs in 5 career games vs. the Falcons.

Atlanta started the 2015 campaign strong but struggled toward the end and missed the post-season for the second straight season. Matt Ryan had 4,591 passing yards last season, his 5th consecutive 4,000-yard season. Ryan passed for 21 TDs in 2015, his 7th consecutive 20+ TD season, while becoming the franchise leader in career pass yards (32,757), completions (2,915), TD passes (202), rating (90.9) & 300-yard pass games (35). Also on offense, RB Devonta Freemanled NFL RBs with 14 TDs (11 rush, 3 receieving) last season, ranking him 5th in NFL with 1,634 scrimmage yards (1,056 rush, 578 rec.) in 2015… Ryan’s favorite target WR Julio Jones, was tied for NFL lead with 136 catches last year, which tied him for 2nd most in season in NFL history. Jones became 3rd player in NFL history with 125+ receptions (136) and 1,700+ rec. yards (1,871) in season (Marvin Harrison, 2002 & Antonio Brown 2015)… The Falcons did make some improvemnents on defense as DE Dwight Freeney will make his Atlanta debut after playing for Arizona last year. Freeney lead the Cardinals with eight sacks, ranking him 4th in the NFL since 2002 with 119.5 sacks.

Tampa Bay leads the series 23-22, have outscored the Falcons 952-902 and swept the series with the Falcons in the 2015 campaign. (Atlanta’s last win over Tampa Bay came in the 2014 season, when they swept the series with the Bucs, taking wins in the Big Peach and the Sunshine State.)

First meeting… week eight in the Big Peach. Tampa Bay led 13-3 at the half against the Falcons, only to see the host team rally to tie things up in the second half before Connor Barth connected on a 31-yard field goal in overtime to take a 23-20 win in the Georgia Dome. Atlanta managed to outpace Tampa Bay 17-7 in the final 30 minutes of regulation before the Bucs scored first i the overtime, holding off the Falcons in their attempt in the extra period to either tie things up or win it at home. Tampa Bay outrushed at Atlanta 117-101 but Ryan (2 TDs) outpassed Winston (TD, 2 sacks) 397-177. Turnovers were a problem for Atlanta in the first meeting, as they would turn the pigskin over four times (three fumbles and a Ryan interception).

Both teams did reasonably well on third down tries (Atlanta was 6 of 12, while Tampa Bay was 6 of 13) and the home team did okay on fourth down tries, going 2 of 3, while Tampa Bay had only one fourth down try without success. Time was on the side of the Falcons, who held the ball for 39:05 to Tampa Bay’s 30:11.

Meeting number two took place in the Sunshine State in week 13 and again the Bucs stopped Atlanta, taking a 23-19 win. Atlanta led 9-7 at the intermission at Raymond James Stadium before they were outscored in the second half 16-10. Atlanta was held to 64 yards rushing and Ryan was sacked three times, while throwing for 269 yards and a TD (Winston threw for 277 in the contest). As was the case in the first meeting in the Peach State, both teams were somewhat successful on third down conversions (Atlanta was 8 of 16, Tampa Bay 6 of 11) but neither club had a fourth down try in the rematch. Tampa Bay won the battle of the clock, keeping the ball for 31:15, while the Falcons kept the pigskin for 28:45. Atlanta’s favored by 3 and the over/under’s 47 1/2. Both numbers make sense. Tampa Bay would like to make it three wins in a row against Atlanta, while the Falcons would like to have some revenge in their nest. Bucs make it closer than the 3 but Atlanta “RISES UP” to the occasion and takes the win at home.

Buffalo (8-8) at Baltimore (5-11), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV705. It’s wings vs. crabcakes as Rex Ryan and the Bills travel to Charm City to face off against the Ravens.

For Buffalo, it’ll be Tyrod Taylor under center. Taylor, in a twist of irony, was drafted by Baltimore in 6th round (No. 180 overall) of 2011 Draft. He spent 1st 4 years of his careeer (2011-15) with Ravens (14 games, 0 starts) and was 1
of 3 QBs in NFL last season with 3,000+ pass (3,035) & 500+ rush (568) yards. Buffalo led NFL in rushing (152.0 yards per game) in 2015 and RB Le Sean MCCoy is the only NFL player with 7,000+ rush (7,050) & 2,000+ rec. (2,266) yards since
2010. Has 209 rushes for 10+ yards since 2010, most in NFL. RB-PR Reggie Bush is only active NFL player with 5,000+ rush (5,493), 3,000+ receptions (3,508) and 500+ PR (781) yards…WR SAMMY WATKINS had career-high 1,047 rec. yards & 9 TDs in 2015.
Averaged 17.5 yards per catch last year, 2nd best mark in NFL by WR with 1,000+ yards…

Meanwhile, current Ravens QB Joe Flacco has guided Baltimore to playoffs in 6 of 8 seasons as starter, while RB Justin Forsett has 2,323 scrimmage yards (1,907 rush, 416 recieving) over past 2 seasons (1,161.5 yards per season) Flacco’s favorite target in the air, WR Steve Smith, Sr. has 13,932 career recieving yards and needs 73 to pass Hall of Famer James Lofton for 10th in NFL history. Smith and Hall of Famer Tim Brown are only 2 in NFL history with 900+ catches and TD via run, catch, punt return and kick return.

Once again, defense was the word of the day for the Ravens as LB Terell Suggs is franchise leader with 106.5 career sacks, LB Elvis Dumveril has 32.5 sacks in 3 seasons with Baltimore and LB C.J. Mosley has recorded 100+ tackles in each of 1st 2 career seasons. S Eric Weddle makes his Ravens debut this Sunday. Weddel was selected to 3 Pro Bowls with San Diego.

While the series is even at 3-3, the Ravens have outscored the Bills 120-102. Baltimore’s last win in the series came in Charm City in 2010 in overtime by a final of 37-34, while the Bills won in 2013 along the shores of Lake Ontario by a final of 23-20. Baltimore’s favored by 3 and the over/under is 44 1/2. The 44 1/2? Makes sense. The 3? Sounds a little on the high side, considering that both offenses can do damage when they’re on task. Ravens cover the 3 at home in Charm City and takes the win.

Chicago (6-10) at Houston (9-7), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 710. Cutler vs. Watt. A pair of marquee stars meet in the Lone Star State as Chicago looks to improve their position in the NFC North agianst the Houston Texans.

Chicago’s Jay Cutler had 3,659 pass yards with 21 TDs andcareer-high 92.3 passer rating last year. Cutler was the team’s franchise leader in rating (85.5), completions (1,939), completion percentage (61.9) and pass yards (22,384).

The Texans Won the AFC South last year, their 3rd division title in team history and QB Brock Osweiler makes his Houston.
debut. He started 7 games with Denver in 2015, replacing Peyton Manning and made 1st career start at Chicago (11/22/15), completing 20 of 27 (74.1 pct.) for 250 yards with 2 TDs and 0 INTs for 127.1 rating in 17-15 win. Meanwhile, Texans fans got some really good news as DE J.J. Watt (disc surgery) will take the field Sunday in the Lone Star State. Watt was named NFL Defensive Player of Year in 2015, winning the award in 3 of past 4 seasons (2012, 2014, 2015). Since entering the NFL in 2011, Watt has 74.5 sacks, most in NFL and is the only player in NFL history with 2 seasons with 20+ sacks (2012, 2014).

Houston and Da Bears have met three times in regular season action and have won all three meetings, while outscoring Chicago 68-35, with the Texans coming away 13-6 winners in the Windy City in 2012. Houston’s favored by 6 1/2 and the over/under is 44. Da Bears have been known to struggle on offense at times and the Texans hope to take advantage. While it’ll be closer than the 6 1/2, Houston wins at home.

Green Bay (10-6) at Jacksonville (6-10), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 711. A pair of teams with opposite records from 2015 meet on Florida’s east coast as the Packers make their way to the Sunshine State for a date with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Mike McCarthy has led team to playoffs in 8 of his 10 seasons as head coach, while QB Aaron Rodgers has 104.1 career rating, highest in NFL history. In 2015, passed for 3,821 yards & 31 TDs, his 4th time in 5 seasons with 3,000+ yards & 30+ TDs… Rodgers will have WR Jordy Nelson back to throw to in the 2016 campaign. Nelson had career-high 98 catches and 1,519 recieving yards in 2014. Nelson also had 13 recieving TDs that season… LB Clay Matthews was 2nd on club with 6.5 sacks in 2015.

A much-improved Jaguars club will have Blake Bortles as their starting QB. Bortles passed for franchise-record 4,428 yards & 35 TDs in 2015, making him the youngest QB in NFL history with 4,400+ pass yards, 35+ pass TDs & 300+ rush yards (310) in season and had 39 completions of 25+ yards last year, tied for most in NFL with Rodgers.

Green Bay holds a 3-2 lead in the series and have outscored Jacksonville 117-98 in those meetings. Green Bay’s last win in the series came at Lambeau in 2012 with the Packers coming away 24-15 winners, while Jacksonville’s last win in the series came in the Sunshine State by a final of 20-16 in 2008. The Packers may be on the road but the oddsmakers in Vegas like them as 5 1/2 point favorites with a 48 over/under. Jacksonville’ll put up a fight but the Packers cover the 5 1/2 in the Sunshine State, taking the win.

San Diego (4-12) at Kansas City (11-5), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 706. A pair of AFC West rivals open up their 2016 campaigns n the Show-Me State as the Chargers, who struggled throughout the 2015 season, meet the Andy Reid-led Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead.

Chargers QB Philip Rivers ranked 2nd in NFL in 2015 with 4,792 pass yards and since 2008, has 34,759 pass yards, 2nd most in NFL. Has 5,157 career pass yards vs. KC, his most vs. any opponent. Rivers’ favorite target, TE Antonio Gates, ranks 2nd in NFL history among TEs with 104 recieving TDs and is 3rd among NFL TEs with 844 catches and 10,644 recieving yards. Gates also
21 games with 2+ recieving TDs, most by TE in NFL history. Rivers and Gates have  combined for 77 TDs, most by QB-TE duo in NFL history On defense, LB Manti Te’O led club with career-high 82 tackles last year…

After struggling to start the 2015 campaign, the Chiefs have won 10 consecutive regular-season games, with QB Alex Smith passing for career-high 3,486 yards last year & had 20 pass TDs with 95.4 rating.

Including contests that were played when the Chiefs were in Dallas and known as the Texans and the Chargers played their home games in Los Angeles, Kansas City leads the series 56-54-1, have outscored the Bolts 2,396-2,229 and won the last four meetings, including sweeps in 2014 and 2015. (San Diego’s last win over the Chiefs came in 2013, when they swept the series in that season, taking a 27-24 overtime win at Qualcomm that season.)

Meeting number one… Qualcomm in week 11. Kansas City led 9-3 at the half and never looked back, taking a 33-3 win on the Left Coast. The Chiefs went on to shutout San Diego in the second half 24-0, holding San Diego to 52 yards on the ground and sacking Rivers three times, picking him off once (The Chiefs rushed for 153 yards in the blowout win, Alex Smith threw for 253 yards). While the game was somewhat of a dud, third down tries in the first meeting were nothing to write home about (Kansas City was 5 of 12, San Diego was 4 of 13) but the Chiefs did find success on fourth down, making their only try in the game, while the Chargers were 0 of 1. Time was on the side of the Chiefs in the first contest, as they kept the ball for 33:28, while San Diego held on to the pigskin for 26:32.

Contest number two… Arrowhead in week 14. The Chiefs were looking to claim a playoff spot that week, while the Chargers were trying to keep them out of the post-season party. After a scoreless first quarter, Kansas City took a 10-0 lead with them to the intermission, then held on for dear life to come away 10-3 winners. Once again, the Bolts were outrushed by the Chiefs, this time by a 150-44 margin and Rivers found himself being sacked five times, even though he did outpace Alex Smith in passing yards 263-191.

Kansas City did a little better on third down conversions in the second meeting, going 6 of 11, while the Chargers were 6 of 18 (3 of 3 on fourth down). This time, San Diego won the battle of the clock, keeping the ball for 31:08 to Kansas City’s 28:52.

Kansas City’s favored by 7 with a 44 1/2 over/under. Given the histories between these two clubs, the 44 1/2 makes sense but the 7 in this case is on the high side. Chiefs stay up to date in Kansas City in the opener and wins at home, even though the Chargers will make it closer than the 7.

Oakland (7-9) at New Orleans (6-10), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 712. The Silver and Black make their way eastward to the Big Easy for a meeting in the great indoors, taking on Drew Brees and the Saints.

QB Derek Carr passed for career-highs in yards (3,987), TDs (32) and  rating (91.1) last season for the Silver and Black, making him the only QB in franchise history with 3,500+ pass yards and 30+ pass TDs in season and had 6 300-yard games in 2015… WR Amari Cooper led all rookies in 2015 with 72 catches & 1,070 rec. yards, both franchise rookie records, tallying five 100-yard games, most by NFL rookie last season. Had 6 rec. TDs, tying him for most by rookie. Meanwhile, WR Michael Crabtree led the Raiders last year with 85 catches (922 yards) and 9 recieving TDs, both tied for his career high. The Raider defense was a little better last year, as DE Khalil Mack was ranked 2nd in NFL last season with career-high 15 sacks & 23 tackles for loss. Mack will get some help this year LB Bruce Irvin joins Oakland after four seasons with Seattle.

For the Saints, Brees had league-leading 4,870 pass yards last year, his NFL-record 10th consecutive 4,000-yard season. Brees has 60,903 career pass yards & became 4th player in NFL history with 60,000+ yards and needs 459 pass yards to surpass Hall of Famer Dan Marino (61,361) for 3rd most all-time. RB Mark Ingram has 2 consecutive season with 1,100+ scrimmage yards, scoring 5+ rush TDs in 4 of past 5 seasons.

The Saints lead the series 6-5-1, have outscored the Silver and Black 283-251 and have won the last three contests, including a 38-17 win in Oakland in 2012, while Oakland’s last win in the series came in 2000 in the Big Easy by a final of 31-22. New Orleans’ favored by a single point and the over/under is 51. Saints cover the 1 and win in the Big Easy.

Cincinnati (12-4) at New York Jets (10-6), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 707. A team that made the playoffs last season travels to the Meadowlands as the Bengals take on a J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! team that almost made the post-season party last year.

For the Bengals, it’s always the bridesmaid but not quite the bride. They did win the AFC North in 2015 and have made playoffs in 5 consecutive seasons and tied a team record with 12 wins last year. That’s the good news. The bad news? They’ve been bounced out of the first round of the playoffs the last four years, something Cincy fans will hope their team will correct. QB Andy Dalton has 50-26-1 (.656) record, highest win pecentange by Bengals QB (minimum of 20 starts).

GangGreen eventually did get their QB situation taken care of and Ryan Fitzpatrick will be under center for now. Fitzpatrick set franchise record with 31 pass TDs last season. Had career-high 3,905 pass yards, 2nd most by NYJ QB in season (Hall of Famer Joe Namath) and RB Matt Forte will make his Jets debut in the Meadowlands. Since entering the NFL in 2008, Forte has 12,718 scrimmage yards (8,602 rush, 4,116 recieving), most in NFL…Last year, WR Brandon Marshall set franchise records in catches (109) and recieving yards (1,502) and tied team mark in rec. TD (14). Is only player in NFL history with 6 100-catch seasons. WR Eric Decker had 80 catches for 1,027 yards and 12 TDs in 2015. In 2 career meetings, has 13 catches for 212 yards (106 per game) and 4 TDs (2 in each game). Marshall and Decker each had recieving TD in same game 9 times in 2015, most ever by teammates in season… On the defensive side of the ball, DE Muhammad Wilkerson had career-high 12 sacks last year and had 6 sacks in past 4 contests at home, while tallying a sack and interception INT in last game against the Bengals. CB Darrelle Revis was only player in NFL last season with 5+ interceptions (5) and 4+ fumble recoveries (4).

While GangGreen leads the series 15-8 and have outscored the Bengals 569-507, Cincy did win the last meeting in the Queen City by a final of 49-9 in 2013. The J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! last win? 2010 in the Meadowlands by a 26-10 score. Cincy’s favored by 2 1/2 and the over/under’s 41 1/2. This could be closer than 2 1/2 but Cincy prevails on the Jersey Shore Sunday.

Cleveland (3-13) at Philadelphia (7-9), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 708. It’s new signal callers and coaches in the City of Brotherly Love as Cleveland travels to Philadelphia for an afternoon contest with the Eagles.

As far as the men calling the plays… Hue Jackson will lead the Browns, while Doug Pederson, who took over for Chip Kelly late last season, will be the man to lead Philly.

Both clubs will have new signal callers as well. For the Browns, it’s Robert Griffin III, taking over for Johnny Manziel. Griffin will make his Cleveland debut and has five starts against the Eagles, while with Washington, coming into the contest with a 98.3 passer rating. In the November 18th meeting while with the Redskins, he completed 14 of 15 (93.3 pct.) for 200 yards with 4 TDs without an interception for 158.3 rating and also rushed for 84 yards…

As far as the Eagles are concerned… Sam Bradford? Out. Shipped off to Minnesota. In? QB Carson Wentz. who lead North Dakota State to consecutive NCAA Divison 1 FCS national titles in 2014 and 2015.

Cleveland leads the series 31-16-1 and they may have outscored the Eagles 1,201-901 but… Philly has taken away wins in the last four contests, including a 17-16 win along the shores of Lake Erie in 2012. Cleveland’s last win in the series came all the way back in 1994, when they left old Veterans Stadium with a 26-7 win. The Eagles (or egguhls as they say in Philly) are favored by 4 and the over/under’s 41. Both teams have new coaches, both teams have new quarterbacks and that makes this one interesting but not “Drill Worthy.” Eagles cover the 4 and soar to the win at home in the Keystone State.

Minnesota (11-5) at Tennessee (3-13), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 713. The defending NFC North champs travel to the Music City to take on Tenneseee in the Volunteer State.

The Vikings won NFC North last season, 1st division title since 2009 with Teddy Bridgewater under center. This time, it’s Shawn Hill taking over for Bridgewater (knee) with Sam Bradford coming from Philadelphia as a backup. Bradford passed for a career-high 3,725 yards with 19 TDs last year with the Eagles and set single-season Eagles records for completions (346) & completion pct. (65.03) RB Adrian Peterson was back to his old form, leading the NFL in rushing (1,485 yards) and tied for NFL lead with 11 rush TDs last year. Peterson is 1 of 3 in NFL history (Hall of Famers Marion Motley and Curtis Martin) to lead NFL in rushing at 30+ years old.

The Titans can now take the interim title off Mike Mularkey’s name. Tennesee named him the 18th head coach in team history in January. QB Marcus Mariota had 4 games with 3+ TD passes in 2015, tying Peyton Manning for most by rookie and became only rookie in NFL history to have 2 games with 4+ pass TDs and no interceptions. RB De Marco Murray left Philadelphia and makes his Titans debut. Since 2013, when he was with Dallas, Murray leads all active players with 28 rush TDs and is 2nd with 3,668 rush yards. Murry will get some help in the backfield as the Titans picked up RB Derrick Henry from Alabama. Henry was selected as the 45th overall pick in the April draft after winning the Heisman Trophy with the Crimson Tide.

Mariota will have another target to throw to in the form of WR Andre Johnson, who joins Tenneseee and is the active leader in catches (1,053) and reciveing yards (14,100), averaging 76.2 reciveing yards per game, 4th best mark in NFL history (minimum of 100 games). On the defensive side of the pigskin, LB Brian Orakpo has 47 career sacks and needs 3 to reach 50.

Including contests that took place when the Titans were in Houston and known as the Oilers, the Purple Gang leads the series 8-4 and have outscored the Titans 320-188. Minnesota’s last win in the series came in 2012 in the Twin Cities in the great indoors of the Metrodome by a final of 30-7, while Tennessee took a 30-17 win over the Vikings in the Music City in 2008.  Minneosta’s favored by 2 with a 41 over/under. The Vikings look to repeat as NFC North champs, the Titans look to stay out of the AFC South cellar. Vikings cover the 2 and win in the Music City.

Miami (6-10) at Seattle (10-6), 4:05 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 714. A pair of opposites meet in the Pacific Northwest as Miami travels to Seattle for a late afternoon (Eastern time) affair with the Seahawks.

For Miami, it will be their first game with Adam Gase as head coach and QB Ryan Tannehill aims for 3rd straight 4,000-yard pass season. Tannehill and Hall of Famer Dan Marino are only QBs in franchise history with 4,000-yard pass season. After departing Houston, RB Arian Foster makes his Miami debut and is Is only NFL player since 2010 with 6,000+ rush yards (6,215), 50+ rush TDs (51) & 2,000+ recieving yards (2,175).

For the fourth season in a row, the Seahawks have made it to the playoffs and have won 10+ games in each of past 4 seasons. QB Russell Wilson led NFL with 110.1 rating last season. In 2015, became 1st QB in NFL history with 4,000+ pass yards (4,024), 30+ pass TDs (34) & 500+ rush yards (553) in season. Wilson will not have Marshawn Lynch in the backfield but will have RB Thomas Rawls in his place. Rawls led team with 830 rush yards & 4 TDs last season. Rawls has also rushed for 756 yards (108 per game) & 4 TDs in 7 career starts. Seahawks are 6-1 when Rawls starts.

Miami leads the series 8-3, has outscored Seattle 237-187 but Miami took wins in the last two meetings, including a 24-21 win in the Sunshine State in 2012. Seattle’s last win in the series came in 2004 in the land of grunge, salmon and Starbucks, coming away 24-17 winners at the Kingdome. For the Seahawks, they are favored by a whopping 10 1/2 points, the largest spread this season to date and the over/under is 44. The ‘fins make this one somewhat interesting and if you’re a fan of either team, by all means, watch this one; otherwise, you’re better off watching that “Law And Order:SVU” marathon on USA Network Sunday (Benson slapping the cuffs on someone is downright sexy!). Seattle may not cover the 10 1/2 but they take the win in the land of grunge, salmon and Starbucks.

New York Giants (6-10) at Dallas (4-12), 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 715. It’s another NFC East rivalry as the Giants and Cowboys meet in JerryWorld (AT&T Stadium). While Eli will be there, the Cowboys will be without Tony Romo (back).

Ben McAdoo takes over for Tom Coughlin, making his debut as Giants head coach and QB Eli Manning is becoming the NFL’s answer to Cal Ripken, making his 183 consecutive start, longest active streak in NFL. In 2015, Manning passed for 4,000+ (4,432) yards for franchise-record 5th time. Threw 35 TDs last season, 2nd most in season in franchise history (Hall of Famer Y.A. Tittle, who had 36 in 1963). Manning has 100+ rating in 3 of past 6 games vs. Dallas. WR Odell Beckham, Jr. had 96 receptions last year, 2nd most in season in franchise history. Beckham 2,755 career recieveing yards (1,305 in 2014 & 1,450 in 2015), most by player in 1st 2 seasons in NFL history

For Dallas, it’s QB Dak Prescott, not Romo, that will be under center for a while. Prescott was selected in 4th Round (Number 135 overall) by Dallas in 2016 NFL Draft and is all-time leading passer in Mississippi State history with 9,376 yards & 70 TDs. He’ll have two major targets to throw the pigskin to this season. Since 2012, WR Dez Bryant ranks 2nd with 44 recieving TD and Bryant has 1,200+ rec. yards in 3 of past 4 seasons. TE Jason Witten (1,020) is 1 of 2 TEs in NFL history with 1,000+ catches. Ranks 2nd in NFL history among TEs with 11,215 recieving yards and LB Sean Lee led team with 128 tackles last season and has 12 interceptions since entering NFL in 2010, the most by LB, while K Dand Bailey has highest FG pct. (90.6) in franchise history (minimum of 100 FG made).

The series? Dallas leads it 62-43-2 and the Cowboys have outscored the G-Men 2,423-2,089. The two teams split last year’s meetings, with each taking wins in front of the home crowds.

Game one… JerryWorld (aka AT&T Stadium) in week one. The Giants let a 26-20 lead get away from them as Tony Romo and TE Jason Witten connect on an 11-yard TD pass with seven seconds left to take a 27-26 win in Arlington. Dallas trailed 13-6 at the break before rallying in the final 30 minutes of action. Neither club managed to break the 100-yard barrier but New York did manage to outrush Dallas 99-80, while Romo outpaced Eli Manning in passing yardage 356-189. While Romo did throw a pair of interceptions, he did manage to toss three TD passes, including the game-winner to Witten, who had 60 yards on eight catches.

Third down tries in the first meeting? Dallas went 6 of 11, while the Giants were 6 of 14 and the Cowboys ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 37:10, while the Giants held on the pigskin for 22:50.

That was the first meeting.

Meeting nubmer two… the Meadowlands in week seven. Another close game but with a much different outcome. This time, it was Dallas letting a 13-10 halftime lead get away from them as New York outscored Dallas in the final half for a 27-20 win at Met Life Stadium. New York managed to outscore Dallas in the second half 17-7 to take the win over the NFC East rivals. The rushing game came to life in the second meeting, as Dallas did manage to outrush the Giants 233-132 (Darren McFadden led all rushers with 152 yards and a TD) but this time, it was Matt Cassel, not Romo under center (broken collarbone). Cassel was no Romo, throwing for 227 yards and was picked off three times, while Manning threw for 170 in the rematch. Third down tries in game two… Dallas? 6 for 11 (0 of 1 on fourth down). New York? 3 for 11. Dallas did manage to rule the clock in the second meeting, holding the ball for 38:04 to New York’s 21:56. The Giants are favored by 1 and the over/under comes in at 46. As bad as both teams were last year, both numbers make a lot of sense. Dallas will have to live without Romo for a while but they’ll cover the 1 and win at home in JerryWorld.

Detroit (7-9) at Indianapolis (8-8), 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 716. A couple of teams that play their games in the great indoors and barely missed the postseason party meet in the Hoosier State in a late Sunday afternoon contest with two teams with automotive histories.

For the Lions, it’s going to be life without Megatron (Calvin Johnson). Meanwhile, QB Matthew Stafford passed for 4,262 yards in 2015, his 5th consecutive 4,000-yard season. Stafford has 23,174 pass yards since 2011, 3rd most in NFL. Since 2011, he averages 289.7 pass yards per game, 2nd among NFC QBs (Drew Brees). WR Anquan Boldin will pick up where Johnson left off with 1,009 career catches, 1 of 13 in NFL history with 1,000+ catches and WR Golden Tate has 189 catches in past 2
seasons, 5th most in NFL. Has 4 TDs in past 4 games…DT Haloti Ngata had interception last meeting vs. Indianpolis, when he was part of the Baltimore Ravens on October 5th of 2014.

Meanwhile… Colts QB Andrew Luck passed for 391 yards & 4 TDs – including game0-winning TD with no time remaining – in only start vs. Detroit. Luck, in taking over for Peyton Manning, has 14,838 career pass yards and needs 162 to reach 15,000. Can reach mark in 56th career game and would be tied for 2nd fastest in NFL history. RB Frank Gore leads active players with 12,040 rush yards. Gore has a rushing TD in all 5 career games vs. Detroit and in 5 career meetings, has 590 rush yards (118 per game) Since 2014, WR T.Y. Hilton is averaging 16.4 yards per catch, best mark in NFL (minimum 100 catches). Has recorded 1,000+ recieving yards & 5+ TDs in 3 consecutive seasons. Hilton had 6 catches for 100 yards in only meeting… K Adam Vinatieri ranks 3rd in NFL history in FGs (503) and points (2,253).

The Colts lead the series 21-18-2 (which includes contests that took place in Baltimore, Tiger Stadium and the Silverdome), have outscored the Lions 895-811 and won the last four meetings, including a 35-33 win in the Motor City in 2012. Detorit’s last win over Indy came in 1997 in Detroit at the old Silverdome by a final of 32-10. Indy’s favored by 3 1/2 and the over/under is 50 1/2. Two teams hoping to get back to the post-season party in 2016 after decent but not great records last year. Again, this one’s interesting but not in the “DRILL WORTHY” mode. However, Indy races to take the win in the Hoosier State.

New England (12-4) at Arizona (13-3), 8:30 p.m. on NBC. It’s the “Bradyless Bowl” as Bill Bellichick and the New England Patriots travel westward to face off against the Arizona Cardinals in the first Sunday night contest of the 2016 campaign.

New England is the only team in NFL history to win 12 division titles in 13 seasons and the Pats have won 12+ games in 6 consecutive seasons, 2nd team to accomplish feat (Indianapolis from 2003-09). In case you’ve been given a concussion, Brady is out, serving a four-game suspension for his part in “Deflategate” and QB Jimmy Garoppolo will be under center, making his first NFC start. He will have some of Brady’s weapons to use in RB Le Garrette Blount, who rushed for 120 yards and a pair of TDs in his lone game against Arizona, when he did it on October 31st of 2010 as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Meanwhile, Brady’s favorite target, TE Rob Gronkowski led team with 11 TD catches in 2015 and is only TE in NFL history with 5 career 10+ TD seasons and since entering NFL in 2010, has 65 recieving TDs, most in NFL.

The Desert Angry Birds in setting a franchise record with 13 wins, won NFC West and advanced to NFC Champ Game last season before losing to Carolina in Charlotte. Arizona scored team-record 489 points (30.6 avg.) and led NFL in total offense (408.3 yards per game) in 2015. QB Carson Palmer set franchise record with 35 pass TDs, 4,671 pass yards & 104.6 rating in 2015. Palmer is only QB in team history with 2 4,000-yard seasons. Had 100+ passer rating in 11 games last year, most in NFL, while WR Larry Fitzgerald had team-record 109 catches in 2015, his 3rd 100-catch season. The All-Pro reciever had 1,215 recieving yards, his club-record 7th 1,000-yard season and  S Tyrann Mathieu tied for team lead with 5 INTs in 2015.

The Desert Angry Birds lead the series 7-6, which includes contests that took place when the Cardinals were in St. Louis and the Pats played their home games at Fenway Park. However…. the Patriots have outscored Arizona 256-242 in the 13 meetings. Arizona came away 20-18 winners in Foxboro in their last meeting in 2012, while the Pats’s last win in the series came in Foxboro in 2008 by a 47-7 final.

Since these two teams almost made it to the promised land last year and there’s no Brady, this one being the first Sunday night game is “DRILL WORTHY.” (For those of you that know what The Drill is, you are excused. Everyone else, pay attention. We don’t want any rookie mistakes here, k?) After you go to the 9:30 mass on Sunday (the 4:30 vigil mass on Saturday counts as a mass attended, people! Don’t make us send the nuns after you! If we do, it is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OVER!), head to your favorite store (a trip to Wal Mart, Target, K-Mart or Costco counts) and get the vittles and the beverages (soda, beer, wine, coffee, et al… if you live in a state that allows the purchase of the items in question) and invite the co-workers, the neighbors (including that really cute kindergarden teacher that knows what to do with a cover-2 defense) and your cousin Connie (remember her? She’s the one that’s been married twice that’s just turned 58 last June and dates a 43-year old ex-Marine, who’s now a football coach at the high school in your town. She’s also the one that ate an entire Oreo cheesecake, two bags of Cool Ranch Doritos, two bacon cheeseburgers with blue cheese and chugged two 2-liter Cokes at your Super Bowl party last year and didn’t gain a pound. You look at her and say to yourself, “what the hell?”

As for the oddsmakers in Vegas, they see the Desert Angry Birds as 6 point favorites and the over/under’s 47. Even without Brady, New England will play enspired football. It’ll be closer than the 6 but the Pats come away with the win.

Pittsburgh (10-6) at Washington (9-7), 7:10 p.m. on ESPN. It’s the first of two Monday night contests as Pittsburgh and Ben Rothelisberger take the show from the Steel City to the nation’s capital, taking on the defending NFC East champs in Landover.

The Steelers have 41 wins on Kickoff Weekend, most by AFC team, with Roethlisberger leading the NFL with 328.2 pass yards per game in 2015 (3,938 yards in 12 games), 3rd-highest single-season avg. in NFL history. Has won 9 of past 11 starts on MNF. Is 3-0 in career as starter vs. Washinhton. Last year, WR Antonio Brown had career-best 136 catches, tied for 2nd most in season in NFL history. Brown was 2nd in NFL with franchise-record 1,834 recieving yards and had 265 catches in past 2 seasons, most ever in any 2-year span and 110+ catches in 3 consecutive seasons. Since 2013, he leads NFL with 375 catches and 5,031 recieving yards On defense, LB James Harrison had 1.5 sacks in last game at Washington…

In all the craziness of the NFC East, Washington won NFC East in 2015 and the Redskins have 48 wins in home openers, 5th most in NFC. QB Kirk Cousins made Washington fans forget about RGII, setting a club record last year with 4,166 pass yards. Was 1st QB in team history to pass for 4,000+ yards and 25+ TDs (29) in season, while tallying a career-high 101.6 rating in 2015.

Washington leads the series 42-32-3 and have outscored the Steelers 1,431-1,221, including games that were played when the Redskins were in Boston and the Steelers merged with the Eagles during the Second World War. As far as MNF games are concerned, the Steelers are 43-24 and won their only Monday night meeting last year, while the Redskins are 28-38 with a loss to Dallas under their belts in 2015.

Pittsburgh’s favored by 3 with a 50 over/under in the first Monday night contest. Two years ago, Washington fans were saying “Hell, it’s the Redskins!” This week, they’ll be saying “Hail to the Redskins!” Washington may not cover the 3 but they take the win at home in Landover.

Los Angeles (7-9) at San Francisco (5-11), 10:20 p.m. on ESPN. The second of two Monday night games take place in Napa wine country as a pair of NFC West foes take their place in the spotlight in Santa Clara. For the 49ers, it’s a chance to find their way back to the post-season, while for the Rams, it’s a return to the West Coast for the first time since the 1990s.

I Love LA! For the first time since the Clinton adminstration, there is football in Los Angeles as the franchise returns to Tinseltown for 1st time since 1994. Rams QB Case Keenum has won three of his past four starts under center and RB Todd Gurley took home 2015 AP Offensive Rookie of Year honors. Gurley led NFL rookies with 1,106 rush yards and 10 rush TDs, joining Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson (1983) as only Rams rookies with 1,000+ rush yards & 10+ rush TDs. Gurley was also the first Rams rookie RB with 1,000+ rush yards since Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis did it in 1993. In addition to Gurley, K Greg Zuerlein has 2 career 60+ yard FGs & is 1 of 2 players in NFL history (Sebastian Janikowski) with multiple career 60+ yard FGs.

Chip Kelly is back on the West Coast, after his stint in the City of Brotherly Love, making his debut as San Francisco head coach. Complied 26-21 record as head coach of Eagles (2013-15) and led Philadelphia to 2013 NFC East Division title. It’ll be Blaine Gabbert, not Colin Kaepernick under center for the 49ers. Gabbert has a has 85+ passer rating in 5 of past 7 and passed for 354 yards and TD for 86.7 passer rating in last start vs. the Rams.

The 49ers lead the series 65-64-3 (which includes contests that took place in Cleveland when the Rams played along the shores of Lake Erie and the 49ers played their home games at Keezar Stadium and Candlestick Park) and have outscored Los Angeles 2,923-2,816. They met twice last year and spilt both contests, with each team taking wins at home.

First meeting… week eight and it was “Meet Me In St. Louis” as the Rams held San Francisco to a pair of Pat Dawson field goals in the first half, taking a 27-6 victory over the 49ers. Taking a 20-6 lead with them to the intermission, the Rams outscored San Francisco 7-0 in the second half (the two clubs went scoreless in the third quarter). San Francisco found themselves held to 38 yards rushing in the first meeting and Kaepernick was sacked three times, while rookie RB Gurley running amok, rushing for 133 yards and a TD. Third down tries in the first contest were not anything to talk about in the first meeting, with the Rams going 1 of 12. The 49ers weren’t that much better, going 3 of 17 (1 of 2 on fourth down) and held the ball for 28:02, while the victorious Rams held on to the pigskin for 31:58.

Round two… the season finale for both teams in Santa Clara. St. Louis let a 16-10 halftime lead at Levis Stadium get away from them as the 49ers would go on to outpace St. Louis, scoring their last nine points in the contest to take a 19-16 overtime win. Gabbert and Anquian Bolden connected for the contest’s first TD early in the second quarter to give the 49ers a short-lived 7-3 lead. The Rams would answer with a 4-yard TD romp from RB Tre Mason and a 44-yard field goal by  Zuerlein with four seconds left before halftime.

San Francisco would then respond with a pair of Dawson field goals to tie things up and then it was Dawson that would send the home crowd assembled at Levis’ Stadium happy with a 23-yard field goal for the win. Both teams managed to rush for over 100 yards in the second meeting and St. Louis outrushed San Francisco 133-108 and Gabbert threw for 354 yards, outpacing Rams signal caller Case Keenum, who threw for 231. There was a great deal of improvement on third down tries in the second contest but neither team reached the 50 percent threshold, San Francisco going 8 of 18 and the Rams going 3 of 13 (both teams were 0 of 1 on fourth down). Despite the overtime loss, the Rams did manage to rule the clock, keeping the ball for 38:30 to San Francsico’s 33:03.

As far as Monday nights are concerned… the Rams are 26-31 and this will be their first MNF contest since 2014, where they were 0-1. San Francisco? 47-25 under the lights and won their only Monday night meeting last year. San Francisco’s favored by 2 1/2 and the over/under’s 43. It’s California dreaming for one team. The Rams will make this one closer than the 2 1/2 but San Francisco wins this one in Wine Country to close out the week.

Week 4. One quarter of the way done for most NFL teams (New England and Tennessee have byes this week) and things got underway with Pittsburgh losing to Baltimore in overtime Thursday night at Heinz Field. Week four draws to a close on Monday night when Detroit travels to the land of grunge, salmon and Starbucks to take on Seattle.

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIR: The 2015 International Series begins in Week 4, with the Miami Dolphins hosting the New York Jets at London’s Wembley Stadium in the first divisional contest played in the United Kingdom. It will be the first of three games to be played in London this season. The other two games, which will also be played at Wembley, feature the Buffalo Bills against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 7 (October 25th) and the Kansas City Chiefs hosting the Detroit Lions in Week 8 (November 1st).

The International Series has seen some very close contests. In the first 11 games, six have been decided by one score.

The 11 regular-season games played at Wembley Stadium:
DATE (WEEK) Score
November 9, 2014 (10) Dallas 31, Jacksonville 17
October 26, 2014 (8) Detroit 22, ATLANTA 21
September 28, 2014 (4) Miami 38, Oakland 14
October 27, 2013 (8) San Francisco 42, Jacksonville 10
September 29, 2013 (4) Minnesota 34, Pittsburgh 27
October 28, 2012 (8) New England 45, St. Louis 7
October 23, 2011 (7) Chicago 24, Tampa Bay 18
October 31, 2010 (8) San Francisco 24, Denver 16
October 25, 2009 (7) New England 35, Tampa Bay 7
October 26, 2008 (8) New Orleans 37, San Diego 32
October 28, 2007 (8) New York Giants 13, Miami 10

FAST STARTERS: The Denver Broncos, led by quarterback Peyton Manning, are off to a 3-0 start this season. Manning’s teams have often started strong as he has led his teams to a 4-0 start an NFL record six times in his career.

When Denver hosts Minnesota in Week 4, Manning looks to earn his seventh 4-0 start and extend his mark for the most in the Super Bowl era.

New England quarterback Ton Bradt and New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees are the only other active quarterbacks to have three 4-0 starts to a season. Brady and the 3-0 Patriots will travel to Dallas in Week 5 following their bye week.

The quarterbacks with the most 4-0 starts:

PLAYER (4-0 STARTS TO A SEASON)
Peyton Manning (6)*
Fran Tarkenton (4)
Many tied with 3

* 3-0 through Week 3 in 2015

FLYING FALCON: Atlanta wide receiver Julio Jones has 34 receptions for 440 yards and four touchdowns this season. His 34 receptions are the most by a player through his team’s first three games to start a season in NFL history.

With seven receptions on Sunday against Houston, Jones would surpass Wes Welker (40) for the most receptions through the first four games of a season in NFL history.

The players with the most receptions through the first four games of a season in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (YEAR; RECEPTIONS)
Wes Welker, New England (2011; 40)
T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Cincinnati (2007; 39)
Many tied with 36
Julio Jones, Atlanta (2015, 34)*
* Through three games

Jones, who is the first player in league annals to record at least 135 receiving yards in each of his team’s first three games, needs 177 receiving yards on Sunday to surpass Wes Welker (616) for the most receiving yards through the first four games of a season.

The players with the most receiving yards through the first four games of a season in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (YEAR; REC. YARDS)
Wes Welker, New England (2011; 616)
Bob Boyd, Los Angeles Rams (1954; 555)
Terry Glenn, New England (1999; 544)
Charley Hennigan, Houston (1963; 543)
Henry Ellard, Washington (1994; 536)
Julio Jones, Atlanta (2015, 440)*
* Through three games

BOOMING BECKHAM: New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is set to play in his 16th career game on Sunday. Beckham, through 15 career games, already has the most catches by a player in his first 16 games.

With 20 receiving yards on Sunday at Buffalo, Beckham would surpass Bill Groman (1,593) for the most receiving yards through a player’s first 16 games.

The players with the most receiving yards in their first 16 games to begin a career:

PLAYER (Team, Years; RECEIVING YARDS)
Bill Groman (Houston Oilers, 1960-61; 1,593)
Odell Beckham Jr. (New York Giants, 2014-15; 1,574)*
Billy Howton (Green Bay, 1952-53; 1,500)
Charley Hennigan (Houston Oilers, 1960-61; 1,426)
Lance Alworth (San Diego, 1962-63; 1,399)
*Through 15 games

With a 100-yard receiving game against Buffalo, Beckham would tie Groman (nine) for the most 100-yard receiving games through a player’s first 16 career games.

The players with the most 100-yard receiving games in their first 16 games to begin a career:

PLAYER, TEAM (YEAR(S); 100-YARD RECEIVING GAMES)
Bill Groman, Houston Oilers (1960-61; 9)
Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants (2014-15, 8)*
Harlon Hill, Chicago (1954-55; 8)
Charley Hennigan, Houston Oilers (1960-61; 7)
Billy Howton, Green Bay (1952-53; 6)
Julio Jones, Atlanta (2011-12; 6)

*Through 15 games

TOP CARDS: The Arizona Cardinals have jumped out to a 3-0 start this season, amassing a league-high 126 points over the first three weeks. The Cardinals have scored 30+ points in each week, including 48 and 47 points in each of the past two weeks.

With 37 points on Sunday against St. Louis, Arizona would surpass the 2002 Oakland Raiders (162) for the fourth-most points scored through the first four games of a season in NFL history.

The teams with the most points scored through the first four games of a season in NFL history:
TEAM – YEAR (POINTS SCORED)
Dallas – 1966 (183)
Denver – 2013 (179)
Chicago Bears – 1941 (175)
Oakland – 2002 (162)
Oakland – 1968 (160)
St. Louis Rams – 2000 (160)
Arizona – 2015 (126)*
* Through three games

FRESH START: Seven teams are undefeated through their first three games of the season – Arizona, Atlanta, Carolina, Cincinnati, Denver, Green Bay and New England.

While no guarantee of future success, a strong start to the season is a good omen – 75 percent of teams (93 of 124) that started 3-0 since 1990 made the playoffs.

COMPLETE SUCCESS: On Sunday Night Football, Denver quarterback PEYTON MANNING completed 31 of 42 passes for 324 yards and two touchdowns in the Broncos’ 24-12 win over Detroit. Manning, who has 6,008 career completions, joined BRETT FAVRE (6,300) as the only players to reach 6,000 career completions.

TOM TERRIFIC: New England quarterback TOM BRADY completed 33 of 42 passes (78.6) for 358 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions for a 118.1 passer rating in the Patriots’ 51-17 win over Jacksonville. Brady, who has nine touchdowns without an interception this season, joined Peyton Manning (2010, 2013) and Don Meridith (1966) as the only players in NFL history to pass for at least nine touchdowns with no interceptions in the first three games of a season.

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

PLAYER, TEAM (YEAR, MOST TD PASSES W/OUT INT)
Peyton Manning, Denver (2013, 12)
Tom Brady, New England (2015, 9)
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)

CATCHING ON: Atlanta wide receiver Julio Jones had 12 catches for 164 yards with two touchdowns in the Falcons’ 39-28 win over Dallas. Jones, who has 34 receptions this season, surpassed Troy Brown (31 in 2002), Clark Gaines (31 in 1980) and Wes Welker (31 in 2011) for the most catches through a team’s first three games of a season.

Seven teams – Arizona, Atlanta, Carolina, Cincinnati, Denver, Green Bay and New England – remain undefeated as the NFL enters Week 4.

“It’s the kind of start you always want to have,” says Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, who leads the AFC in passer rating (121.0), about the team’s 3-0 record. “It says a lot about the people we have on this team. We’re going to keep playing one week at a time but we like where we are right now.”

The chances of making the playoffs after a 3-0 start are good but far from certain. Since 1990, when the current playoff format was adopted, 93 of the 124 teams (75 percent) to start 3-0 have qualified for the postseason.

“It’s hard to win games in this league so any time you can start 3-0, it’s a big deal,” says Panthers center Ryan Kalil.

Atlanta, which missed the postseason a year ago, is the first team in NFL history to start 3-0 after trailing in the fourth quarter of every game. That’s just another example of the unpredictability of the NFL. In fact, since the 12-team playoff format was adopted in 1990, at least four clubs made the playoffs each season that were not in the postseason the previous year.

“The sky’s the limit for this team,” says Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones, whose 34 receptions are the most by a player in the first three games of a season in NFL history. “We’ve just got to believe and stay together.”

There are 13 teams with a 2-1 record or better – Arizona (3-0), Atlanta (3-0), Buffalo (2-1), Carolina (3-0), Cincinnati (3-0), Dallas (2-1), Denver (3-0), Green Bay (3-0), Minnesota (2-1), New England (3-0), the New York Jets (2-1), Oakland (2-1) and Pittsburgh (2-1) – and five of them did not make the playoffs in 2014 (Atlanta, Buffalo, Minnesota, the Jets and Oakland).

Don’t count out any teams yet. Since 1990, 67 teams with a losing record after the first three games made the playoffs. That includes two teams last season – Green Bay and Indianapolis. Both of those clubs advanced to their Conference Championship Game. So, entering Week 4, hope is still very much alive for everyone.

As the NFL approaches the quarter mark of the season, Week 4 kicked off with Baltimore defeating Pittsburgh Thursday night in overtime 23-20. Also this week, the NFL returns to London for the first of three games this season. For the first time, a game at Wembley Stadium will feature division rivals as the Miami Dolphins clash with the New York Jets (9:30 AM ET, CBS). Week 4 will conclude with a pair of primetime matches as the New Orleans Saints hosts  Dallas Sunday night and 8:30 p.m. on NBC and Detroit visits the land of grunge, salmon and Starbucks to face the Seattle Seahawks on Monday night at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN to close out week 4. The 2015 NFL regular-season schedule features 19 Super Bowl rematches as part of the year-long celebration of Super Bowl 50, which will be played on Sunday, February 7, 2016 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.

The Giants will travel to take on the Bills Sunday in a rematch of Super Bowl XXV, won by the Giants 20-19. Rematches are part of the NFL’s On The Fifty platform, designed to link the past 49 Super Bowls with this year’s game and honor the teams, players, coaches, fans and communities that have been a part of those games.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will also celebrate Homecomings this week as NFL Legends will return to be honored by their teams and will reconnect with former teammates, club personnel, and fans. The Buccaneers will induct Mike Alstott into the team’s Ring of Honor in Week 4 against Carolina.

Last week was a great week for picks as We went 13-3 in week three, which makes us 33-15. Here are the games for Sunday and Monday in Week 4.

Houston (1-2) at ATLANTA (3-0), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 705. The Falcons return to the Big Peach to take on J.J. Watt and the Houston Texans in the Georgia Dome.

For the Texans, running back Alfred Blue rushed for 139 yards with a touchdown and wide receiver De Andre Hopkins had eight catches for 101 yards with a touchdown as the Texans notched their first win of the season last week against Tampa Bay 19-9. The Texans trailed 9-7 at the half before scoring their final 10 points unchallenged in front of the home crowd at NRG Stadium. Houston held Tampa Bay to 57 yards, while rushing for 186 in the 10-point win and went 8 of 18 on third down tries, keeping the ball for 36:16 (Tampa Bay held it for 23:44, while going 1 of 12 on third down conversions).

“I was having fun out there,” Blue told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “When you go out there and have fun, you compete and have great games.”

The Falcons are having fun this season as the team has started 3-0 with all three wins coming while trailing in the fourth quarter. Last week, Atlanta scored 25 unanswered points in a 39-28 win at Dallas. The Falcons became the third team in NFL history to have both a rusher with at least 100 yards and three touchdowns (Devonta Freeman, 141 yards and three TDs) and a receiver with at least 150 yards and two touchdowns (Julio Jones, 164 yards and two TDs) in the same game. Jones is off to a record-setting pace as his 34 catches are the most in the first three games of a season in NFL history and he is the only player in league annals to record at least 135 receiving yards in each of his team’s first three games.

“All the plays Julio makes, it just feels normal to him,” Falcons head coach Dan Quinn told WSB-TV, WXIA-TV, WGCL-TV and WAGA-TV. “He’s just a really unique guy in terms of the way he competes. He’s used to making those special plays and he has all the confidence in the world in that.”

Atlanta rallied twice in the contest against the Tony Romo-less Cowboys before taking the lead for keeps early in the fourth quarter and added another TD to seal the deal after trailing 28-10 at the intermission. The Falcons outrushed Dallas 158-127, while the defense sacked Brad Weeden twice. Atlanta on third down tries went 9 of 14, while holding the ball for 34:13 (Dallas struggled on third down, going 1 of 6 and 0 of 1 on fourth down and kept the pigskin for 25:47).

Houston leads the series 2-1 and have outscored the Falcons by a 50-49 margin. Houston won the last meeting  between the clubs in the Lone Star State in 2011 by a final of 17-10, while Atlanta’s only win in the series came in the Big Peach in 2007 by a 26-16 final. The odds makers like the Falcons at home as a 6-point favorite in the Big Peach with a 46 over/under. Houston’s a lot better than their 1-2 record indicates but Atlanta will “RISE UP!” to the occasion at home in the Big Peach and take the win to remain umblemished.

New York Jets (2-1) at Miami (1-2), 1 p.m. on CBS in London. A pair of old AFC East rivals meet again with a different twist. They’re taking their act out of town. As in across the pond. As in London. Fish and chips, guvernor? The Dolphins and Jets make their way across the Atlantic in the first of three games in merry old England.

The NFL makes its return to London with the first of three games to be played in the UK this season. For the first time, two division opponents will face off at Wembley Stadium.

Under first-year head coach Tod Bowles, the Jets lead the NFL with 11 takeaways, including four by cornerback Darrelle Revis (three fumble recoveries, one interception), and have surrendered a league-low 41 points (13.7 per game).

“We dissect our opponent each week,” says Revis. “We go through the game plan to try and find ways to create turnovers.”

GangGreen came away from the Meadowlands last Sunday with a 24-17 loss over Philadelphia at Met Life Stadium. Philly led 24-7 at the half before allowing GangGreen to score 10 second half points unchallenged. Philly ran for 123 yards (with RB Ryan Matthews rushing for 108), while holding the Jets to 47 yards and picking off Ryan Fitzpatrick three times. Both the Eagles and GangGreen struggled on third down tries (Philly was 4 of 15, the Jets were 7 of 17) but the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! won the time of possession battle, keeping the ball for 31:49 to the Eagles’ 28:11.

Miami is looking to bounce back from consecutive losses and hope a trip to the UK can help them earn a key division victory.

“We know we’re a better team than we’ve showed,” Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill told the Miami Herald. “There’s no panic here. But definitely an urgency to get this thing turned around.”

Including contests that were played at the old Orange Bowl and Shea Stadium, the Jets lead the series 51-46-1, while the Dolphins have outscored GangGreen 2,142-2,098. These old rivals split last year’s meetings, with each taking wins in the other’s ballpark.

In week 13, the ‘Fins and the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! squared off in the Meadowlands and it was Miami coming out on top 16-13. Miami trailed 13-6 after 45 minutes of action and scored their final 10 points unchallenged to take the win. Although they were held to 74 yards rushing and allowed Jets RB Chris Johnson to run for 105 of their 277 yards, Miami took home the win for their second on the road when trailing in the fourth quarter in the past 50 such occurrences, with the other coming in December of 2013 against Pittsburgh. Both Tannehill and Geno Smith failed to throw a TD pass and were sacked twice, while throwing an interception in the game. Miami on third down conversions went 5 of 13, while GangGreen went 7 of 15. The Jets did manage to win the time of possession battle, keeping the ball for 32:35 to Miami’s 27:25.

GangGreen would get revenge in their second meeting, this one in the Sunshine State in week 17, as they would erase a 17-14 halftime deficit to take a 37-24 win, which all but knocked Miami out of the playoff picture. New York would outscore Miami in the second half 23-7 in the final 30 minutes of action for the win, which would be the last for Rex Ryan as Jets head coach. Miami did outrush the Jets 179-104 (Lamar Miller ran for 178 of those yards) but allowed Tannehill to be sacked seven times in the loss at home. Third and foruth down conversions in the second contest? All the charm and charisma of a stale Christmas cookie (Miami was 4 of 13, 0 of 1; the Jets were 6 of 14 and 1 of 2) but the Jets had time on their hands, holding on to the ball for 31:16 to Miami’s 28:44.

Although they won by 3 in the week 13 matchup in the Meadowlands, Miami did not cover the 4 1/2 spread and neither club came anywhere near the 41 1/2 over/under, tallying only 19 points. In week 17, Miami was again favored, this time by 5 1/2 and the Jets covered the spread, winning by 13 and both the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! and ‘Fins covered the 42 over/under in the season finale. The J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS are favored by 1 with a 41 over/under. GangGreen looks to right their ship across the pond, while the Dolphins would like nothing more than to run New York’s party. Miami covers the win and wins across the Big Pond.

New York Giants (1-2) at Buffalo (2-1), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 709. A pair of former Super Bowl foes meet in upstate New York as the Bills host Eli Manning and the New York Giants along the shore of Lake Erie.

The Giants got their first win of the year with a 32-21 victory over Washington last Thursday night. Wide receivers Rueben Randle (seven catches for 116 yards) and Odell Beckham Jr. (seven catches for 79 yards) each had a touchdown reception for New York. Neither the ‘Skins or Giants breached the 100 yard rushing barrier (Washington had 88 and the Giants were not that far behind at 84) and neither club did anything on third down tries to keep their fan base happy (Washington was 6 of 15, 2 of 3 on fourth down; New York was 4 of 12 and 1 of 1 on fourth down) and it would be the G-men winning the ball control battle as well as the game, keeping the pigskin for 31:30 to Washington’s 28:30.

“The win gives us confidence,” says Giants quarterback Eli Manning. “It’s a long season and there’s a lot of football left to play. You’ve got to get one win and just keep it going. Now let’s try to get another and put some things together because I feel like we’ve been playing pretty good football.”

Buffalo improved to 2-1 last week with a 41-14 win at Miami. Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor completed 21 of 29 passes (72.4 percent) for 277 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions for a 136.7 passer rating. Buffalo rookie running back Karlos Williams added 110 rushing yards and a touchdown, his third consecutive game with a rushing TD.

“It was very big for us as a team to get this win,” says Taylor. “We went out there and battled together. We fed off of each other’s energy. Collectively, we won that game. We are going to learn from it, get back to work and start moving forward.”

The Bills lead the series 6-5 and have outscored the Giants 210-195. Buffalo’s last win in the regular season against their instate rivals came in 2003 when the Bills traveled to the Meadowlands to take a 24-7 decision, while the Giants won the last two meetings, with the last regular season win in the series coming in 2011 in the Meadowland by a final of 27-24.

Then there’s the issue of the Super Bowl in 1990 in Tampa. It was a time when the United States was involved in the Gulf War and America got introduced to Whitney Houston’s version of “The Star Spangled Banner.” Jeff Hoffstetdler took over for an injured Phil Simms and the Giants came away with a 20-19 win in Super Bowl XXV, surving when Scott Norris’ field goal try late in the contest sailed wide right. Giants RB Ottis Anderson was named the game’s MVP in Buffalo’s first attempt to win a Lombardi Trophy. The Bills are favored by 6 in Orchard Park and the over/under comes in at 49. Both teams are not that bad but the Giants are a bit better. Buffalo had best circle the wagons. Giants may not cover the 6 but they win in upstate New York.

Oakland (2-1) at Chicago (0-3), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 706. The resurging Oakland Raiders travel to the Windy City to face the winless Bears at Soldier Field.

Oakland led Cleveland 17-3 at the half along the shores of Lake Erie and then needed to hold off a late Browns rally to come out 27-20 winners. The Raiders’ Latavius Murray ran for 139 yards (the Silver and Black tallied 155, while holding Cleveland to 39) and the Oakland defense sacked Josh McCown five times. (McCown and Raiders QB David Carr each had a pair of TD passes in the contest). Oakland went 6 of 14 on third down tries in the Buckeye State and kept the ball for 32:29, while the Browns held on to the pigskin for 27:31, while going 8 of 16 and 1 of 1 on third and fourth down tries.

Chicago went into hibernation on the West Coast against the defending NFC champions, who scored their 26 points against them unchallenged as they shut out Chicago at CenturyLink Field last Sunday in the Pacific Northwest. Seahawk RB Thomas Rawls found his inner Walter Payton as he ran for 104 of Seattle’s 159 yards in the home opener, while holding Chicago to 98 yards on the ground and sacking Josh Gruden twice in the process. Neither club did much on third down tries in the contest out west (Chicago was 3 of 13, Seattle was 5 of 16 but 2 of 2 on fourth down) and ruled the clock, holding the ball for 32:36, while Da Bears kept it for all of 27:24.

The Raiders lead the series 7-6 (which includes contests that were played when the Silver and Black were in Los Angeles) but Chicago has outscored the Raiders 234-229. Oakland’s last win in the series came in 2012 when they won 17-6 in the Windy City in 2007. Oakland’s favored by 2 and the over/under for this one is 44. Both numbers make a lot of sense. Chicago needs to find its way back to prominence in the NFC North, which is not an easy task when Da Bears have to deal with Green Bay. Raiders cover the 2 and take the wind out of Da Bears in Da Windy City.

Kansas City (1-2) at Cincinnati (3-0), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 707. Kansas City comes off a short week to travel to Cincinnati to face the unbeaten Bengals along the shore of the Ohio River.

A Chiefs rally at Lambeau last Monday night fell short as Kansas City fell to Green Bay 38-28 last Monday night. The Packers tokk a 24-7 at the half and held off a late Chiefs rally in the second half to take the Monday night win. Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers threw for 333 yards and five TDs, while keeping his home interecption-less streak intact, outpacing Alex Smith, who threw for 290 yards and a TD. Green Bay outrushed Kansas City 123-75 and forced a Chiefs turnover in the win. Green Bay was 4 of 11 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth down tries, while Kansas City was 2 of 10 and 2 of 2. The Packers also won the time of possession battle, holding the ball for 33:30 to Kansas City’s 26:30. The one bright spot in the 10-point loss at Lambeau for the Chiefs came when Smith and WR Jeremy Maclin connected on a 5-yard TD pass with 56 seconds left in the third for their first TD pass to a WR since 2013.

The Bengals kept themselves unblemished as they rallied to take a 28-24 win over Baltimore last Sunday in Charm City. Cincy took the lead for keeps late in the contest when Andy Dalton and WR A.J. Green connected on a 7-yard TD pass with 2:10 left to play in regulation. The Bengals then held off a late Ravens’ rally, stopping their hosts short. Neither club came anywhere near the 100-yard barrier (Cincinnati had 86, while Baltimore had 36) and Dalton outpaced Joe Flacco 383-362 in passing yardage with three TDs passes (including the game winner). The Bengals ruled the roost on third down conversions, going 8 of 15 (Baltimore was 7 of 16) and kept the ball for 30:08 to the Ravens’ 29:52 (Cincy on fourth down was 1 of 2, while Baltimore was 2 of 3).

Cincinnati holds a slim 14-13 lead in the series and have outscored Kansas City 527-494. The Bengals won the last three meetings between the two clubs, including a 28-6 win in Kansas City in 2012 (the Chiefs’ last win in the series came in 2007, when they won at Arrowhead by a final of 27-20. The Bengals are favored by 3 and the over/under is 42 1/2. Chiefs make it close but Bengals live to fight another day by taking the win at home and covering the 3.

Jacksonville (1-2) at Indianapolis (1-2), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 708. A pair of struggling 1-2 AFC South teams meet in the Hoosier State as the Colts and Andrew Luck host the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Jacksonville found themselves getting manhandled by Tom Brady and the defending Super Bowl champions in Foxboro last Sunday, falling to New England 51-17. The Jaguars trailed the Patriots 20-3 at the half and could never really find their way back as they would be held to 57 yards rushing, while New England ran for 125. Blake Bortles did manage to throw for 242 yards and a pair of TDs but was sacked twice and picked off in the lopsided loss in western Massachusetts. Suprisingly, the Jaguars were 6 of 12 on third down tries but 0 for 1 on fourth down and kept the ball for 25:20, while Brady and the Pats were 11 of 14 on third down, keeping the pigskin for 34:40.

The Colts rallied late against Tennessee last Sunday in Nashville and came away with a 35-33 win over the Titans. The Titans made it a 2-point game when FB Jalston Fowler scored on a 1-yard run with 47 seconds left. Tennessee then chose to go for two to tie things up and perhaps send the contest into overtime but Fowler’s run attempt failed as he scrambled to get in but could not. Indy then ran out the clock and took the win out of Music City. Luck and Tennessee rookie QB Marcus Mariota each threw a pair of TDs in the win but both also threw a pair of interceptions. Both teams struggled on third down tries (Indy was 4 of 11, while Tennessee was 4 of 13) but each did well on fourth down tries, finding success on their only try in the contest. Even though they lost by 2, the Titans did win the battle of the clock, keeping the ball for 34:59 to Indy’s 25:01.

The Colts hold a commanding 20-8 lead in the series, have outscored Jacksonville 714-525 and have won five of the last six meetings in the series, including sweeping the Jagaurs in the 2014 campaign (Jacksonville’s last win in the series came in 2012 when the Jaguars suprised the Colts in the Hoosier State by a final of 22-17). In the first meeting in week three in the Sunshine State, Indy took a 30-0 halftime lead and took the Jaguars to the woodshed 44-17 at EverBank Field. Indy outrushed Jacksonville 144-105, while Luck threw four TDs and 370 yards, while Bortles threw a pair of TDs but was picked off twice. Third down tries in the first meeting? Indy was 8 of 14, while Jacksonville was 4 of 10 (the Colts were 0 of 1 on fourth down tries) and the Colts held the ball for 37:03 to Jacksonville’s 22:57.

They would meet again in the Hoosier State in week 12 and the Colts broke a 3-3 first quarter tie and scored their last 20 points in the contest unchallenged to win 23-3 at Lucas Oil Stadium. This time, the Colts held Jacksonville to 80 yards (Indy rushed for 175) and Luck threw for 253 yards and a TD, despite getting sacked five times (Bortles was sacked four times and picked off once). Third down conversions in the second meeting were kind to the Colts, who were 9 of 17. while the Jaguars struggled, going 3 of 12 and 0 of 1 on fourth down. Time favored the Colts again, as Luck and Indy kept the ball for 34:05 to Jacksonville’s 25:55. Jacksonville in the week three contest was favored by 6 1/2 (Indy won by 27, covering the spread with ease) and both clubs blanketed the 46 1/2 over/under, combining for 61 points. In the week 12 matchup in Indy, the Sunday before Thanksgiving, the Colts covered the 13 1/2 point spread, winning by 20 but both clubs failed to reach the 50 1/2 over/under, as they would combine for only 26 points.

The Colts are favored by 9 and the over/under is 47 1/2. Both teams are struggling but they’re not that bad. At the same time, if you’re a fan of either team, feel free to watch this one; otherwise, you might want to beg the wife/girlfriend/significant other to take you shopping at Victoria’s Secret. We’ll understand. Colts may not cover the 9 but they win back home again in Indiana.

Carolina (3-0) at Tampa Bay (1-2), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 710. Jameis Winston faces off against another Heisman winner as Cam Newtwon and the Carolina Panthers travel to the Sunshine State for an NFC South contest in the Sunshine State.

The Panthers won their third game in as many tries at home last Sunday against conference rival New Orleans in Charlotte. Breaking a 10-10 halftime tie, the Panthers outscored the Saints (who were without Drew Brees) in the second half 17-13, while holding New Orleans to 70 yards and picking off backup QB Luke McCown in the process. Meanwhile, Newton threw for 315 yards and a pair of TD passes and scored a rushing TD in front of the home crowd at Bank of America Stadium. Carolina in the 27-22 win went 5 for 11 on third down tries, keeping the ball for 27:16, while the Brees-less Saints won the time of possession battle, holding the pigsking for a whopping 32:44 and going 7 of 12 on third down conversions (both teams were 1 of 1 on fourth down tries).

Tampa Bay was held to 57 yards in their 19-9 loss at Houston last Sunday, while allowing Texans RB Alfred Blue to rush for 139 yards with a touchdown, while wide receiver De Andre Hopkins had eight catches for 101 yards with a touchdown. The Texans trailed 9-7 at the half before scoring their final 10 points unchallenged in front of the home crowd at NRG Stadium. Houston went 8 of 18 on third down tries, keeping the ball for 36:16 (Tampa Bay held it for 23:44, while going 1 of 12 on third down conversions).

Carolina leads the series 18-11, have outscored the Bucs 620-505 and have won the last four meetings, including sweeping the series last year (Tampa’s last win in the series came in 2012, when they swept that series). In week one in Tampa, Carolina held off a late Tampa Bay rally to win 20-14. The Panthers outrushed Tampa Bay in the Sunshine State 113-102, while Derek Anderson, subbing for Newton, threw for 230 yards and a pair of TDs. Carolina was 6 of 15 on third down (1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 35:12, while Tampa Bay went 6 of 12 on third down and possessed the ball for 24:48.

Game two wound up in the Tar Heel State and for Carolina, it was “second verse, same as the first” in week 15 as they once again held off Tampa Bay to come away with a 19-17 win at Bank of America Stadium. This time, Tampa Bay outrushed Carolina 151-121 in the contest and that was a good thing, because neither Anderson or Josh McCown looked anything like Winston or Netwon Heisman-wise, with each man being sacked three times. Carolina in forcing three Tampa Bay turnovers went 5 of 13 on third down (Tampa Bay was 5 of 12) and kept the ball for 37:31 to Tampa Bay’s 22:29.

In the week one affair in the Sunshine State, Tampa Bay was favored by 1 and the over/under was 39. Carolina won by six, allowing them to cover the spread but both Tampa Bay and the Panthers missed the over/under by five. In week 15, although Carolina won the second meeting, they did not cover the 5 1/2 point spread, winning by only 2 and neither team won the over/under battle, scoring only 36 points (the over/under was 43). Carolina’s favored by 3 1/2 and the over/under’s 40. Newton and Winston won two of the last three Heismans, so this one might be a good one to watch. Carolina’s finer in the Sunshine State and wins this one and covers, even though Tampa Bay will put up a fight against their NFC South rivals.

Philadelphia (1-2) at Washington (1-2), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 711. A pair of struggling NFC East rivals meet in Landover this week as Philadelphia takes a train ride to Landover to face the Washington Redskins. There was some concern about this game not being played, due in part to the weather that has been pestering the East coast with Hurricane Joaquin roaming about the Atlantic. The NFL issued a statement Friday, which said “”Our primary concern as it relates to Hurricane Joaquin is the safety of the public, including our fans and clubs. Based on the storm’s current trajectory and the lifting by Governor Hogan of the state of emergency in eight Maryland counties, including Montgomery and Prince George’s County (where FedEx Field is located), we expect to play Sunday’s Philadelphia at Washington game as scheduled on Sunday at 1 p.m. The governor’s office has assured us that based on the current forecast playing the game would have no adverse effect on public safety. We will continue to monitor the storm, stay in contact with the governor’s office and other public authorities and be prepared to adjust the schedule if necessary should the forecast change.” With that, game on.

The Eagles came away from the Meadowlands last Sunday with a 24-17 win over the New York Jets. Philly led 24-7 at the half before allowing GangGreen to score 10 second half points unchallenged. Philly ran for 123 yards (with RB Ryan Matthews rushing for 108), while holding the Jets to 47 yards and picking off Ryan Fitzpatrick three times. Both the Eagles and GangGreen struggled on third down tries (Philly was 4 of 15, the Jets were 7 of 17) but the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! won the time of possession battle, keeping the ball for 31:49 to the Eagles’ 28:11.

They’ve met 159 times in the regular season and the Redskins lead the series 81-73-5 but the Eagles have outscored Washington 3,316-3,139. They split last year’s contests with each winning in their backyards.

Round one… Week three in Philly. Washington trailed 21-20 at halftime and came up short against the Eagles in the City of Brotherly Love 37-34. Neither club rushed for 100 yards in the contest (Washington had 84, Philly 54) and both Nick Foles (325 yards) and Kirk Cousins (427 yards) threw three TDs in the contest. Washington on third down tries in the first contest went 8 of 15 and kept the ball for 34:48 (the ‘Skins were 0 of 1 on fourth down), while the Eagles were 4 of 11 on third down and held the ball for 25:12.

Round two… Week 16 in Landover and a playoff spot for Philly at stake. Philly led 14-10 at halftime and allowed that lead to slip from their talons when K Kai Forbath nailed a 26 yard field goal with five seconds left to play. This time, it was Mark Sanchez going up against Robert Griffin III in the second meeting and Sanchez outpaced Griffin in passing yardage 374-230, with Sanchez throwing two TDs but was sacked three times. Philly in the second meeting on third down tries went 9 of 16 and kept the ball for 32:04, while Washington was a somewhat dismal 2 of 9, holding on to the ball for a mere 27:56.

The Eagles in the week three meeting were 6 1/2 favorites and won by only three but both clubs covered the 51 over/under by 20. In the second meeting, the one which Philly had a chance to seal a playoff spot and could not, the Eagles were favored by 8 and Washington came away with the 3-point win in Landover and both clubs missed the 50 1/2 over/under by 1/2 point. Philly’s favored again, this time by 3 and the over/under’s a whopping 47. For the first three weeks, fans in Washington were saying “HELL, IT’S THE REDSKINS!” Not this week. Get ready to sing “HAIL TO THE REDSKINS!” this weekend. Washington covers the 3 and takes the win in Landover.

Cleveland (1-2) at San Diego (1-2), 4:05 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 712. A pair of struggling AFC teams meet on the Left Coast as Cleveland travels to San Diego to face the Chargers.

Cleveland trailed Oakland at home 17-3 at the half along the shores of Lake Erie and a late Browns rally fell short as they lost to Oakland 27-20. Cleveland was held 39 yards rushing, while Oakland’s Latavius Murray ran for 139 yards and the Oakland defense managed to sack Josh McCown five times. (McCown and Raiders QB David Carr each had a pair of TD passes in the contest). Oakland went 6 of 14 on third down tries in the Buckeye State and kept the ball for 32:29, while the Browns held on to the pigskin for 27:31, while going 8 of 16 and 1 of 1 on third and fourth down tries.

San Diego trailed Minnesota 10-7 at the break in the Twin Cities before the Vikings pulled away to the 31-14 win. Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson ran for 126 of the Vikings’ 163 yards, while the Chargers were held to 90 and Philip Rivers was sacked four times in the contest in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. The Chargers were 8 of 17 on third down conversions in the Twin Cities (0 of 1 on fourth down tries) and kept the ball for 33:29 to Minnesota’s 26:31 (the Vikings on third down tries? 3 of 9).

The Chargers lead the series 14-8-1 and have outscored the Browns 546-441. The Browns took the last meeting between the two teams in 2012 along the shore of Lake Erie by a 7-6 count, while San Diego’s last win came in 2009, when they left Cleveland with a 30-23 victory. San Diego’s favored by 10 and the over/under’s 45. The 45 makes sense. The 10 has us wondering why. These teams are decent but not 10 points good. San Diego stays classy and wins at Qualcomm, even thought they may not cover the 10.

St. Louis (1-2) at Arizona (3-0), 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 713. It’s a NFC West battle in the desert as St. Louis travels to Glendale to face off against the division-leading Cardinals.

The Rams are seeking their second division victory of the season after Week 1’s win over Seattle. St. Louis, led by defensive tackle Aaron Donald (3.5 sacks) and defensive end Robert Quinn (three), is tied for the league lead with 13 sacks. St. Louis enters the contest with a 12-6 loss to Pittsburgh at home under their belts. The Rams trailed the Steelers 9-3 at the half in a game that was delayed for about 35 minutes because the turf at Edward Jones Dome was accidentally set on fire during pre-game introductions. St. Louis did outrush Pittsburgh 71-62 and managed to sack Ben Roethlisberger three times and backup QB Michael Vick twice in the loss, while Nick Foles threw for 197 yards. The Rams were somewhat dismal on third down conversoins, going 2 of 10 and 0 of 2 on fourth down, keeping the ball for 27:41. Pittsburgh in the 6-point win went 6 of 12 on third down and held the ball for 32:19.

The Cardinals lead the league with 126 points scored, tied for the fourth-most in NFL history through three games. Last week, in a 47-7 win over San Francisco, Arizona became the first team in 70 years (1945 Green Bay) to return two interceptions for touchdowns (Justin Bethel, 21 yards and Tyrann Mitchell, 33 yards), record a safety and score at least 40 points in a game. Offensively, wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (nine catches for 134 yards and two touchdowns) recorded his second consecutive game with at least 100 yards and two touchdowns while running back Chris Johnson had 150 scrimmage yards (110 rushing, 40 receiving) and two TDs. The Desert Angry Birds outrushed San Francisco 139-103 and kept Colin Kaepernick to 67 yards passing, while picking him off four times. As far as third down tries were concerned… neither club reached the 50 percent mark (San Francisco was 4 of 12, Arizona 6 of 13) but the Cards, who had success in their only fourth down try, did manage to rule the clock in the lopsided win, keeping the ball for 36:32 to San Francisco’s 23:28.

“I’ve never played on a team like this with so many offensive threats,” Johnson told the Arizona Republic. “To be able to go out there and contribute, it just feels great.”

Including contests that were played when the Cardinals were in Chicago and then St. Louis before heading west and the Rams were in Cleveland before going to Los Angeles and then to St. Louis, the Desert Angry Birds lead the series 36-34-2, have outscored the Rams 1,407-1,398 and have won three of the last four meetings, including a series sweep in 2014 (St. Louis’ last win came in 2013 in the Gateway City by a final of 27-24).

In the first meeting in week 10, Arizona erased a 14-10 deficit at the half by scoing 21 fourth quarter points unchallenged to win 31-14. Neither club broke or came anywhere near the 100-yard rushing barrier in the contest in Glendale (St. Louis tallied 70, while Arizona had 28) and Rams QB Austin Davis, subbing for the injured Sam Bradford, was sacked six times and picked off twice (Arizona’s Carson Palmer found himself being sacked three times and picked off once). The bright spot for Arizona’s offense was Fitzgerald, who caught nine passes for 112 yards in the contest. St. Louis, who turned the ball over three times in the 17-point loss, went 1 of 10 and 1 of 2 on third and fourth down tries and kept the ball for 26:40, while the Desert Angry Birds kept it in their nest for 33:20 and went 6 of 15 on third down conversions.

In week 15, things went eastward as they met in St. Louis and Arizona managed to erase a 3-0 deficit after the first 15 minutes of play to come away with a 12-6 win in the Show-Me State. The rematch between the divison foes was a workout for the kickers as the contest was touchdown-less. Cardinals K Chandler Catanzaro kicked four field goals in the contest, with his longest coming from 51 yards out. Arizona outrushed St. Louis 143-69 in the second meeting but Fitzgerald was held in check this time, tallying only 30 yards on seven catches. As far as third and fourth down tries in the second contest… not a lot to write home, let alone tweet about (Arizona was 5 of 17; St. Louis was 4 of 15 and 0 of 1 on fourth down) but Arizona did manage to rule the clock, holding the ball for 34:24 to St. Louis’ 25:36.

Arizona won by 17 in the week 10 contest in the desert and covered the 7-point spread and both clubs covered the over/uder of 43 with 45 points. The Rams in the week 15 rematch in St. Louis were favored by 3 1/2 with a 39 1/2 over/under. The Desert Angry Birds did manage to cover the 3 1/2 with the 6-point win but neither team reached the 39 1/2 over/under, scoring only a whopping 18 points. Arizona’s favored by 6 1/2 with a 44 over/under. St. Louis is decent but the Cards are better. Arizona may not cover the 6 1/2 but they take the win at home in the desert.

Minnesota (2-1) at Denver (3-0), 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 714. A much improved Adrian Peterson and the Minnesota Vikings travel westward to the Rockies to face off against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos at Sports Au

The Vikings won their second consecutive game with a 31-14 victory over San Diego last week in the Twin Cities at their temporary home at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Peterson rushed for 126 yards and two touchdowns, including a 43-yarder. Peterson has 16 career touchdown runs of at least 40 yards, the second-most in NFL history behind only Pro Football Hall of Famer Barry Sanders (20). Minnesota held the Chargers were held to 90 and Philip Rivers was sacked four times in the contest in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. San Diego went 8 of 17 on third down conversions in the Twin Cities (0 of 1 on fourth down tries) and kept the ball for 33:29 to Minnesota’s 26:31 (the Vikings on third down tries went 3 of 9).

“I felt good, the body felt good and my mind was in a great place,” Peterson told the Minneapolis Start Tribune and KARE-TV. “I think I’m back.”

Denver improved to 3-0 with a 24-12 win on Sunday night at Detroit. Defensively, the Broncos forced three turnovers (two interceptions, one fumble) and recorded four sacks. On offense, quarterback Peyton Manning passed for 324 yards and two touchdowns.

“We knew we were playing a team who was going to come out with everything they had,” Manning told the Rocky Mountain News about the win over Detroit. “This is a team that ranked No. 2 in defense last year and they were playing at home for the first time. So for us to go in there and get a win, you can’t discount that.” Denver led Detroit 14-6 at halftime in the Motor City and outlasted the Lions in the second half for the Sunday night win in prime time. Neither club came anywhere near the 100 yard barrier at Ford Field (Denver tallied 41, Detroit had 28) but the Broncos did manage to force three Lions fumbles to restore order. Both clubs went 4 of 12 on third down tries (Denver was 1 of 1 on fourth down) and the Lions actually ruled the clock, holding the ball for 31:08 to Denver’s 28:52.

Minnesota leads the series 7-6 but the Broncos have outscored the Vikings 293-285 and have won the last two meetings, including a 35-32 win in the Twin Cities in 2011 (Minnesota’s last win in the series came in 2003 at the old Metrodome, taking a 28-20 decision. Denver’s favored by 7 and the over/under comes in at 45. Minnesota’s good but Denver’s better. Broncos may not cover the 7 but they stay unbeaten at home.

Green Bay (3-0) at San Francisco (1-2), 4:25 p.m. FOX and DirecTV 715. The unbeaten Packers travel to the Left Coast to face off against Colin Kaepernick and the struggling 49ers.

Green Bay advanced to their 3-0 mark at home last Monday night against Kansas City at Lambeau, taking a 38-28 win in the land of bratwurst, cheese and beer. Green Bay and Aarron Rodgers led 24-7 at the half and held off a late Chiefs rally in the second half to take the Monday night win. Rodgers threw for 333 yards and five TDs, while keeping his home interecption-less streak intact, outpacing Alex Smith, who threw for 290 yards and a TD. Green Bay outrushed Kansas City 123-75 and forced a Chiefs turnover in the win. Green Bay was 4 of 11 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth down tries, while Kansas City was 2 of 10 and 2 of 2. The Packers also won the time of possession battle, holding the ball for 33:30 to Kansas City’s 26:30.

On the other side of the coin…

San Francisco found themselves trailing Arizona 31-7 at the half and were manhandled by the Cardinals 47-7. Although they did rush for 103 yards in the contest, they watched Arizona become the first team in 70 years (1945 Green Bay) to return two interceptions for touchdowns (Justin Bethel, 21 yards and Tyrann Mitchell, 33 yards), record a safety and score at least 40 points in a game. Offensively, wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (nine catches for 134 yards and two touchdowns) recorded his second consecutive game with at least 100 yards and two touchdowns while running back Chris Johnson had 150 scrimmage yards (110 rushing, 40 receiving) and two TDs. The Desert Angry Birds outrushed San Francisco 139-103 and kept Colin Kaepernick to 67 yards passing, while picking him off four times. As far as third down tries were concerned… neither club reached the 50 percent mark (San Francisco was 4 of 12, Arizona 6 of 13) but the Cards, who had success in their only fourth down try, did manage to rule the clock in the lopsided win, keeping the ball for 36:32 to San Francisco’s 23:28.

The Packers are favored by 9 with a 48 over/under. The 49ers have been struggling of late but they’re not 9 points bad. Then again, this is Rodgers and the Packers. Green Bay may leave their hearts in San Francisco but they’ll come away with a treat and the win on the road.

Dallas (2-1) at New Orleans (0-3), 8:30 p.m. on NBC. The Sunday night contest on the Peacock Network features a pair of teams that did not have their normal signal callers at the helm last Sunday and both teams lost.

Without the sevices of Dez Bryant (broken toe) and Tony Romo (collarbone), Dallas let a 28-10 halftime lead against Atlanta slip out of their grasp as the Falcons scored 28 second-half points unchallenged to fall 38-28 in Arlington. The Cowboys were outrushed by Atlanta  158-127, while backup QB Brad Weeden was sacked twice. Dallas struggled and sputtered on third down conversions, going 1 of 6 (0 of 1 on their only fourth down try) and held the ball for 25:47, while Atlanta on third down tries went 9 of 14, keeping the pigskins for 34:13.

The Saints dropped their third contest in the 2015 campaign, losing 27-22 at Carolina in an NFC South matchup in the Tar Heel State. New Orleans and Carolina were tied 10-10 at the half before being outscored by Cam Newton and the Panthers 17-13 in Charlotte. Newton shredded the Saints like a side of Carolina BBQ for 315 yards and a pair of passing TDs and had a rushing TD in the win. The Saints were 7 of 12 on third down tries in the Tar Heel State, keeping the ball for 32:44, while Carolina in the 27-22 win went 5 for 11 on third down tries, keeping the ball for 27:16 (both teams were 1 of 1 on fourth down tries).

Dallas leads the series 16-11, have outscored the Saints 571-524 and won last year’s meeting in the Lone Star State 38-17 (New Orleans’ last win in the series came the year before in the Big Easy by a final of 49-17). In the week four matchup, Dallas RB DeMarco Murray ran for 149 of the Cowboys’ 190 yards in the 21-pont win (New Orleans ran for 104) and Romo threw for 262 yards with three TDs and no interceptions, while Brees threw for 340 with a pair of TDs and an interception.

Even though Romo is out and Brees may be back, this one is “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 56 last June and dates a 41-year old ex-Marine, who’s now a football coach at the high school in your town. She’s also the one that ate an entire Oreo cheesecake, two bags of Cool Ranch Doritos, two bacon cheeseburgers with blue cheese and chugged two 2-liter Cokes at your Super Bowl party last year and didn’t gain a pound. You look at her and say to yourself, “what the hell?”

New Orleans was favored by 3 and Dallas won by 21. That was the good news. The bad news? The combined 48 points meant they missed the over/under of 53. These two could meet again in the post-season but the Saints have to do some digging to get out of the NFC South cellar, as they look up at Carolina, Atlanta and Tampa Bay. Dallas, meanwhile is the only team in the NFC East that is above the .500 mark. New Orleans is a 3-point favorite in the Big Easy with a 47 over/under. New Orleans is getting long in the tooth and Drew Brees is not getting any younger. Saints make this one interesting but Cowboys recover from their loss to Atlanta in Jerry World and take this in the Big Easy, covering the 3.

Detroit (0-3) at Seattle (1-2), 8:30 p.m. Monday night on ESPN. The winless Lions trek across country to face off against the defending NFC champions in the land of grunge, salmon and Starbucks to close out week four.

Detroit trailed Peyton Manning and Denver 14-6 at halftime in the Motor City and then saw the wheels come off the bus as they fell to the Broncos 24-13 in the Sunday night prime time contest. It was not much of a running game as neither club came anywhere near the 100 yard barrier at Ford Field (Denver tallied 41, Detroit had 28) but the Broncos did manage to force three Lions fumbles to restore order. Both clubs went 4 of 12 on third down tries (Denver was 1 of 1 on fourth down) and the Lions actually ruled the clock, holding the ball for 31:08 to Denver’s 28:52.

The defending NFC champions scored their 26 points against Da Bears unchallenged as they shut out Chicago at CenturyLink Field last Sunday in the Pacific Northwest. Seahawk RB Thomas Rawls ran for 104 of Seattle’s 159 yards in the home opener, while holding Chicago to 98 yards on the ground and sacking Josh Gruden twice in the process. Neither club did much on third down tries in the contest out west (Chicago was 3 of 13, Seattle was 5 of 16 but 2 of 2 on fourth down) and ruled the clock, holding the ball for 32:36, while Da Bears kept it for all of 27:24.

Including contests that were played at old Tiger Stadium and the Kingdome, Seattle leads the series 7-5, while outscoring the Lions 293-241. Detroit won the last meeting between the clubs in the Motor City by a 28-24 count, while the Seahawks’ last win came in 2009 in the land of grunge, salmon and Starbucks 32-20. Seattle’s favored by 9 with a 43 over/under. On Monday night, the Lions are 5-10, while Seattle’s 19-11, going 1-0 in their only contest in 2014. Seattle struggled in their first two contests before coming home, while the Lions have not been like Katy Perry and “roared” their way into the NFC North.

Seattle’s favored by 9 at home in the Pacific Northwest and the over/under is 48. The Lions are 13-15-1 on Monday night and went 1-0 in 2014, while the defending NFC champs are 21-8 and also won their only Monday night contest last season. This one may not be one of the better MNF so far, given the records of the teams. Don’t feel too bad if you want to watch “Scorpion,” “NCIS Los Angeles” or “Castle.” We’ll understand. Seattle may not cover the 9 but they win at home in the land of grunge, salmon and Starbucks.

It’s the third SUnday of the 2015 season and with that, the curtain has already been raised for this week’s action as things got underway with the New York Giants breaking into the win column against Washington Thursday night.

If you like tight, nail bitter games, then the first two weeks of the season were designed for you.

This season, NFL games are coming down to the wire.

Through Week 2, 24 of 32 games (75 percent) have been within one score at some point in the fourth quarter, the third-most such games at this point of any season in NFL history.

“A lot of real close, competitive games come down to the last possession, the last play or one key play right at the end of the game,” New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick told the Christian Scientist Monitor, Boston Globe and the Boston Herald. “The league is very competitive all the way across the board.”

In the first two weeks of the 2015 season, there have been six games in which the winning points were scored in the final 75 seconds of the fourth quarter or overtime.

WEEK – GAME (GAME-WINNING SCORE, TIME)
1 – ST. LOUIS 34, Seattle 31 (OT) (Greg Zuerlein, 37-yard field goal, 12:06 OT)
1 – DALLAS 27, New York Giants 26 (Jason Witten, 11-yard pass from Tony Romo, 0:07 4th)
2 – Denver 31, KANSAS CITY 24 (Bradley Roby, 21-yard fumble return, 0:27 4th)
2 – Atlanta 24, NEW YORK GIANTS 20 (Devonta Freeman, 2-yard run, 1:14 4th)
2 – JACKSONVILLE 23, Miami 20 (Jason Myers, 28-yard field goal, 0:40 4th)
2 – OAKLAND 37, Baltimore 33 (Seth Roberts, 12-yard pass from Derek Carr (0:26 4th)
(Home team ALL CAPS)

In Week 2, three AFC clubs recorded the game-winning points in the final minute – Denver, Jacksonville and Oakland.

The Broncos scored two touchdowns in the final minute to earn a 31-24 win at Kansas City on Thursday Night Football. The victory, which marked Denver’s NFL-record 13th consecutive divisional road win, was punctuated by a 21-yard fumble return-touchdown by cornerback Bradley Roby.

“You have to be able to win in all kinds of ways in this league,” says Denver head coach Gary Kubiak, whose Broncos are the first team to score game-winning defensive touchdowns in the second half of each of the first two games of a season since at least 1970. “You just need to keep battling.”

Second-year quarterback Derek Carr capped off his 351-yard, three-touchdown passing performance against Baltimore with a game-winning 12-yard scoring strike to wide receiver Seth Roberts with 26 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter of the Raiders’ 37-33 home win.

“To get a win against a quality opponent like that in front of our home crowd after not playing well here last week, that’s a plus,” says Raiders defensive end Justin Tuck. “What I liked is that everybody just kept fighting until we found a way to win.”

After leading 17-6 in the first half, Jacksonville earned its first win of the season after surviving a late rally by the visiting Dolphins. With the score tied at 20-20, first-year kicker Jason Myers capped a nine-play, 66-yard drive by converting a 28-yard field goal with 40 seconds remaining to seal the win.

“Coach Bradley always preaches starting fast and finishing faster,” says Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles, who passed for 273 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions for a career-best 102.2 rating. “We were able to showcase both tonight.”

Week three in the NFL. Three weeks down, 14 to go. There’s still a lot of football left to play and for teams that are 2-0, it’s not a good time to rest on your laurels. For those teams that are 0-2, there’s still a lot of ground to cover.

Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers continues to post staggering numbers as he etches his name into the NFL record book. Drafted in the first round (No. 24 overall) of the 2005 NFL Draft, Rodgers has been selected to four Pro Bowls (2009, 2011, 2012 and 2014 seasons) and named the league’s Most Valuable Player two times (2011 and 2014).

“I’m driven to be the best,” says Rodgers. “I put a lot of pressure on myself to achieve the goals I set every year. I enjoy trying to meet the challenges those goals bring.”

Rodgers has the highest career passer rating (106.4) in NFL history and he is the only player in league annals to have more than four times as many touchdown passes (231) as interceptions (57) – no other player has three times as many.

The quarterbacks with the highest career passer rating in league history (minimum 1,500 attempts):

PLAYER – TEAM(S) (YEARS, PASSER RATING)
Aaron Rodgers – Green Bay (2005-2015, 106.4)*
Tony Romo – Dallas (2004-2015, 97.6)*
Peyton Manning – Indianapolis and Denver (1998-2015, 97.3)*
Steve Young – Tampa Bay and San Francisco (1985-1999, 96.8)
Tom Brady – New England (2000-2015, 96.2)*
*Active

On Monday night, Rodgers and the Packers will host the Kansas City Chiefs at Lambeau Field, a venue in which Rodgers has experienced a lot of success.

Over his past 18 home games, including the playoffs, Rodgers has completed 371 of 539 passes (68.8 percent) for 4,906 yards with 43 touchdowns and no interceptions for a 124.0 passer rating. At home, he has now thrown 545 consecutive passes without an interception, the longest streak in NFL history. Additionally, he has 43 touchdown passes in a row at home without an interception, also the longest such streak in league annals.

During that span, the Packers have won 16 of 18 home games, including last week’s 27-17 win over Seattle.

“It’s a culture change when you play at home, you expect to win,” says Rodgers. “We haven’t had that around here during all my years, so it’s fun to be around an organization that you’re seeing some culture change. It started last year with some of the blowout wins we had at home against some good opponents, continued in the playoffs against a really good Dallas team and it’s carried over. I think we can be special.”

In his career at home, Rodgers has completed 1,146 of 1,695 passes (67.6 percent) for 14,350 yards with 124 touchdowns and 22 interceptions for a 112.7 passer rating, the best mark in NFL history.

Rodgers has not thrown an interception at home since December 2, 2012 when he did it against Minnesota and hs career interception percentage of 1.6 percent (57 interceptions in 3,531 attempts) is the best mark in league history. Rodgers’ 1.3 interception percentage at home (22 interceptions in 1,695 attempts) is also tops in NFL history.

“Can he get any better?” asks tackle Bryan Bulaga about Rodgers. “He seems to every year.”

Two games down. Fourteen more to go. Nine teams are off to strong starts at 2-0: Arizona, Atlanta, Carolina, Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Green Bay, New England and the New York Jets.

“I’m happy to be on a team that really has an opportunity to do something special,” says Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who had 112 receiving yards and three touchdown catches in the team’s 48-23 win at Chicago. “I’ve never been on a team that’s this deep. We’ve got guys that can really play.”

Among the 2-0 teams are the Falcons and Jets, who both missed the playoffs last season and are candidates to be turnaround teams in 2015. 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.

Atlanta, under new head coach Dan Quinn, has started the season with consecutive come-from-behind fourth-quarter wins for the second time in franchise history (1979).

“It feels great to be 2-0,” says Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones, who had 13 catches for 135 yards in the Falcons’ 24-20 win at the New York Giants last week. “It’s a new year and a new start.”

The Jets and new head coach Todd Bowles have recorded five takeaways in each of their first two games, the first team to accomplish that feat since Pittsburgh in 1992.

“There’s no better place to be than 2-0,” says Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis, who had three takeaways in the team’s 20-7 Week 2 win at Indianapolis on Monday Night Football. “We feel confident and this is where we want to be.”

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, 128 of the 203 teams (63.1 percent) to start 2-0 have qualified for the postseason.

“You look at the schedule and you want to start fast,” says Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, who threw three touchdown passes in the club’s 24-19 win over San Diego in Week 2. “Our goal was to be 2-0 and that’s where we are. Next week, our goal is to be 3-0.”

However, with 14 games remaining, there’s plenty of time to turn things around. Since realignment in 2002, more than 60 percent of the playoff teams (60.3 percent, 94 of 156) started the season at either 1-1 or 0-2. That includes six of the eight division champions from last year: Dallas (NFC East), Green Bay (NFC North), Indianapolis (AFC South), New England (AFC East), Pittsburgh (AFC North) and Seattle (NFC West).

“It’s a long season,” says San Diego head coach Mike McCoy, whose team fell to 1-1 with a loss at Cincinnati last week. “We’re 1-1 and we’ll bounce back. We’ve got great character on our football team. We’ll fight to the bitter end.”

The curtain on week 3 rose Thursday night and it falls on Monday night at Lambeau Field when Green Bay hosts Kansas City. As for last week, we went .500 at 8-8, which is better than nothing, which for the year makes us 20-12. There’s still a lot of football left on the docket. Here are the games for Sunday and Monday in week 3.

Atlanta (2-0) at Dallas (2-0), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 712. A pair of unbeatens meet in the Lone Star State as the Falcons travel to Arlington to face off against Dallas.

Both the Falcons and Cowboys enter Week 3 with 2-0 records. Atlanta has produced fourth-quarter comeback victories in both games, erasing a 10-point deficit last week by scoring 14 points in the final quarter against the New York Giants. Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones ties for the NFL lead with 22 receptions and is second with 276 receiving yards.

“Each week, we’re going to battle as hard as we can,” Falcons first-year head coach Dan Quinn told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, WSB-TV and WXIA-TV. “We won’t look too far ahead. We’re trying to stay in the present and continue to battle for wins every week. Our goal is to see how good we can get every week and keep improving.”

The Cowboys find themselves alone in first place in the NFC East but will have to adjust with the injury to quarterback Tony Romo (collarbone). Last week, Dallas limited Philadelphia to 226 total net yards and just seven net yards rushing in a 20-10 victory. The Cowboys boast the league’s top-ranked run defense (53 yards per game) and are third in overall defense (257.5 yards per game).

“Any time you play a division team, it’s great to get a win,” says Dallas linebacker Sean Lee, who had 14 tackles and an interception in the end zone against the Eagles. “The coaches came up with an unbelievable game plan and the defensive line did a great job in the run game.”

Dallas leads the series 14-9, while outscoring Atlanta 562-430. Dallas’ last win in the series came in 2009 in the Lone Star State by a final of 37-21, while Atlanta’s last win came in the Big Peach in 2012 with a 19-13 win under their wings. The Falcons are favored by 1 1/2 and the over/under is 44. Dallas is Romo-less and Dez-less. The Falcons will remain unbeaten as they leave the Lone Star State with the win and covers the 1 1/2.

Cincinnati (2-0) at Baltimore (0-2), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 705. A pair of AFC North rivals meet in Baltimore as Cincinnati looks to remain unbeaten, while the Ravens look to break into the win column.

Cincinnati took a 14-6 lead against San Diego with them into the locker room and made it work for them, coming away with the 24-19 win over the Chargers last Sunday. The Bengals outrushed San Diego 175-113 and sacked Philip Rivers four times, while Andy Dalton threw three TDs without a sack or interception. Third downs… not a lot of excitement, as the Bengals were 4 of 10, while the Chargers were 4 of 11. San Diego did win the clock battle, keeping the ball for 30:09 to Cincy’s 29:51.

The Ravens found themselves tied with Oakland at halftime before the Raiders outscored them in the second half 17-13 to fall 37-33 on the West Coast. Baltimore did manage to outrush Oakland 109-97 in the contest but lost the game late when Raiders QB David Carr and WR Sean Roberts connected on a 12-yard TD pass with 26 seconds left in the contest. Ravens QB Joe Flacco outpaced Carr 384-351 in passing yardage but Carr threw three TDs to Flacco’s two. Baltimore went 4 of 11 and 2 of 2 on third and fourth down tries and the Ravens held the ball for 30:27 to Oakland’s 29:33 (Oakland on third down conversions 9 of 14).

The Ravens hold a 20-18 lead in the series and they may have outscored Cincy 826-690 but the Bengals have won three of the last four meetings, including sweeping the series in 2014. (Baltimore’s last win in the series came in Charm City in 2013, where they needed overtime to win 20-17).

In the week one matchup in Charm City, the Bengals led 15-0 after the first 30 minutes of action and then held off Baltimore, taking a 23-16 win. Neither club dented the 100-yard mark (Baltimore had 91, while Cincy had 79) and Cincinnati managed to force a pair of Ravens turnovers. Dalton (301) and Flacco (345) did manage to break the 300-yard passing mark and each threw a TD pass in the contest. It was a good thing that both men threw for over 300 yards, because both teams were dismal on third down tries (Cincinnati was 4 of 14, Baltimore was 8 of 17 and 1 of 2 on fourth down) in the contest. Time was on the side of Cincinnati, who kept the ball for 30:30 to Baltimore’s 29:30.

They met again in the Buckeye State in week eight and the Bengals once again held on for dear life and managed to come away with a 27-24 win at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals led 7-6 at the half before managing to outscore the Ravens in the final 30 minutes of play 20-18 to take the win. This time, both teams did manage to shatter the 100-yard rushing barrier in the second meeting (Baltimore tallied 111, while the Bengals had 107). Unlike the last meeting, neither Flacco (195 yards) and Dalton (266) threw a TD pass, while Flacco had a pair of interceptions. The Bengals were a lot better on third down tries in the second meeting, going 8 of 14 (1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 30:44, while Baltimore held the pigskin for 29:16 and went 5 of 13 on third and 1 of 3 on fourth downs.

The Ravens covered the 1 1/2 point spread with their 7-point win but both clubs missed the 43 by four in the first meeting in Charm City. In the week eight matchup in Cincy, the Bengals covered the 1-point spread with their 3-point win and both teams managed to score 51 points, passing the 46 over/under. Baltimore’s a 2 1/2 point favorite in Charm City and the over/under is 44 1/2. It’s Dalton vs. Flacco and this time, it’s Cincy that will keep the Ravens winless in Charm City, even though it will be closer than the 2 1/2.

New Orleans (0-2) at Carolina (2-0), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 711. It’s beignets vs. Carolina bbq as the Saints play their second divisonal oppoent in as many weeks when they travel to the Tar Heel State to face Cam Newtown and the Carolina Panthers.

New Orleans suffered their second loss of the 2015 campaign, a 26-19 loss to divisonal rival Tampa Bay in the Big Easy. Although they trailed 10-7 at the intermission, Tampa Bay proceeded to outscore the home team (who will be without Drew Brees for this contest) in the second half 16-12 to seal the win. The Bucs outrushed New Orleans 139-104 and sacked Brees four times (Jameis Winston was sacked three times) in the game, with both QBs tossing a TD pass and Tampa Bay forced three Saints turnovers in the win. New Orleans did reasonbly well on third down tries, going 7 of 14 (1 of 1 on fourth down) and held the ball for 31:28, while the Bucs kept the pigskin for 28:32 and went 5 of 14 on third down.

The Panthers held off a late Texans rally at home last Sunday to come away with their nine lives and a 24-17 win over Houston. Carolina and Newton led 10-3 after the first 30 minutes of play and the two teams played pretty even football in the second half. The defending NFC South champs rushed for 172 yards, with Newton leading the way with 76 yards and a rushing TD (he threw a pair of TD passes), while Houston could only scratch out 61. It was the Carolina defense that held things together as they would hold off a late Texans drive in the final quarter of play, stopping Houston in the final seconds of the contest. Neither club gave their fans anything to write home about on third down conversions (Houston was 5 of 19, 2 of 4 on fourth down; Carolina was 4 of 13) and the Panthers ruled the clock, holding the ball for 32:29 to Houston’s 27:31.

Carolina leads the series 21-19 and have outscored the Saints 851-827. Both teams spilt the two meetings last year with each team winning in the other’s stadium. In the first meeting in week 9 in Charlotte, the Saints came away with a 28-10 win. New Orleans led 14-0 at halftime and never looked back, even though they were outrushed by the Panthers 109-105 and sacked Newton four times (Brees was also sacked four times). New Orleans went 7 of 13 on third down tries (1 of 1 on fourth down) and held the ball for 34:53, while Carolina struggled on third down, going 6 of 14, while keeping the ball for 24:42.

Carolina and Newton would get revenge in the second meeting in the Big Easy in week 14, taking the Saints to the woodshed with a 41-10 win. Newton would throw three TDs and rush for one in the lopsided win over their NFC South foes in the Big Easy. Carolina’s John Stewart ran for 155 of his team’s 271 yards, while the Saints were held to 92 in the 31-point loss. New Orleans, who turned the ball over twice, went 5 of 13 and 1 of 2 on third and fourth down tries, holding the ball for 24 minutes, while Carolina kept it for 36 and went 7 for 15 on third down.

In the first meeting in week 9 in the Tar Heel State, New Orleans won by 18 (they were favored by 2) but both clubs missed the 49 over/under, scoring only 38 points. Carolina was a 9 1/2 underdog in the week 14 matchup in the Big Easy and won by 31, covering the spread with ease and this time, both clubs managed to cover the over/under, scoring 51 points. The Saints, without Brees, are 3 1/2 underdogs in Charlotte and the over/under is 44. Carolina’s finer at home and takes this one to send the Saints marching to 0-3 and covers the 3 1/2.

Oakland (1-1) at Cleveland (1-1), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 706. A pair of teams that evened their records last week meet along the shores of Lake Erie as the Raiders travel to the Buckeye State to face off against the Cleveland Browns.

The Raiders notched their first win of the season last week with a come-from-behind 37-33 victory over Baltimore. Quarterback Derek Carr threw for 351 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winning score to wide receiver Seth Roberts with 26 seconds remaining in the game. Rookie wide receiver Amari Cooper registered his first career 100-yard game by hauling in seven balls for 109 yards and a touchdown (68 yards). The Raiders broke a 10-10 tie at the half against Baltimore and outscored them in the second half 17-13. Baltimore did manage to outrush Oakland 109-97 in the contest but lost the game late when Raiders QB David Carr and WR Sean Roberts connected on a 12-yard TD pass with 26 seconds left in the contest. Ravens QB Joe Flacco outpaced Carr 384-351 in passing yardage but Carr threw three TDs to Flacco’s two. Baltimore went 4 of 11 and 2 of 2 on third and fourth down tries and the Ravens held the ball for 30:27 to Oakland’s 29:33 (Oakland on third down conversions 9 of 14).

“Derek showed poise and he stood there in the pocket and made some great throws,” says Raiders veteran safety Charles Woodson about Carr. “This guy, he’s special. You saw that with that last drive.”

Cleveland’s Travin Benjamin sparked the Browns to the club’s first victory of the season, a 28-14 triumph over Tennessee. Benjamin had touchdown catches of 60 and 50 yards and added a 78-yard punt-return score in the victory. Cleveland led 21-0 at the half and held off the Titans in the second half for the win. The Browns defense managed to sack Titans rookie QB Marcus Mariota seven times in the contest, while Johnny Manziel threw a pair of TDs in the win at home without being sacked himself. Tennessee did manage to outrush Cleveland 166-116 in the game but the Browns forced three Titans turnovers (fumbles) to seal the win. The Titans kept the ball for 35:11, while going 7 of 16 on third down tries (2 of 2 on fourth down), while Cleveland held on to the pigskin for all of o 24:49, going 4 of 11 on third down (0 of 1 on fourth down).

“As an offensive unit, we know that it takes 11 guys to run a play,” Benjamin told the Cleveland Plain Dealer when asked about his success. “We know the goals we set for ourselves as an offense. I’m always confident and just go out there and play at my highest ability possible. Good things are going to happen.”

Benjamin, who also had a 54-yard touchdown catch in Week 1, is the first player to score four 50+ yard touchdowns in the first two games of a season since Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Brown in 1963.

Oakland leads the series with the Browns 11-10 and have outscored Cleveland 440-380. The two clubs met last year in Cleveland and the Browns took a 9-6 halftime lead and held off the Silver and Black 23-13. Neither club came anywhere near the 100-yard barrier (the Browns tallied 39, while Oakland won that matchup with a somewhat dismal 71) and Oakland turned the ball over three times in the contest. As for third down tries? Not a lot going in that catagory, either (Oakland went 6 of 19 but did manage to go 3 of 3 on fourth down, while the Browns were 2 of 12) but time was on the side of Oakland, who kept the ball for 34:52 to Cleveland’s 25:08.

Cleveland won by 10 (they were favored by 7) and both clubs missed the 43 1/2 over/under, as they combine for 36 points. Cleveland’s favored again in this matchup by 4 1/2 and the over/under’s 42 1/2. These teams are a lot better than their records would indicate. Brownies cover the 4 1/2 and win along the shores of Lake Erie.

Tampa Bay (1-1) at Houston (0-2), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 713. Tampa Bay travels to the Lone Star State to face off against a Houston Texans team searching for its first win of the 2015 campaign.

Tampa Bay and rookie QB Jameis Winston even their record to 1-1 win a 26-19 win over New Orleans in the Big Easy. Leading 10-7 at the intermission, Tampa Bay proceeded to outscore New Orleans in the second half 16-12 to seal the win. The Bucs outrushed New Orleans 139-104 and sacked Drew Brees four times (Winston was sacked three times) in the game, with both QBs tossing a TD pass and Tampa Bay forced three Saints turnovers in the win. New Orleans did reasonbly well on third down tries, going 7 of 14 (1 of 1 on fourth down) and held the ball for 31:28, while the Bucs kept the pigskin for 28:32 and went 5 of 14 on third down.

Houston suffered their second loss of the 2015 campaign as a late-game drive fell short at Carolina, with the Texans losing Carolina and Cam Newton 24-17. Houston tralied 10-3 after the first 30 minutes of play and the two teams played pretty even football in the second half. Carolina ran for 172 yards, with Newton leading the way with 76 yards and a rushing TD (he threw a pair of TD passes), while Houston could only scratch out 61. It was the Carolina defense that held things together as they would hold off a late Texans drive in the final quarter of play, stopping the Texans in the final seconds of the contest. Third down conversions… neither club gave their fans anything to write home about (Houston was 5 of 19, 2 of 4 on fourth down; Carolina was 4 of 13) and the Panthers ruled the clock, holding the ball for 32:29 to Houston’s 27:31.

Houston leads the series 2-1, has outscored Tampa Bay 68-38 and won the last two meetings in the brief series, including taking a 37-9 win in the Sunshine State in 2011. Tampa Bay’s only win was in 2003 in Tampa by a final of 16-3. The boys and girls in Vegas like Houston as a 6 1/2 point favorite and the over/under’s 41 1/2. It could be a lot closer than 6 1/2 but both clubs could pass the over/under with ease. Houston breaks into the win column at home, although the Bucs will cause them some problems.

San Diego (1-1) at Minnesota (1-1), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 707. The Bolts make the long trip to the Land of 10,000 Lakes to face the Vikings in the Twin Cities.

San Diego trailed Cincinnati 14-6 at the half before the Bengals would eventually pull away to lose 24-19 in the Buckeye State last Sunday. San Diego was outrushed by the Bengals 175-113 and Philip Rivers was sacked four times in the 5-point loss. Rivers threw for 241 yards and a pair of TDs but was sacked four times in the game. Both the Bengals and Chargers did nothing on third down tries to endear them to their fan base, with the Bengals going 4 of 10, while the Chargers were 4 of 11. That was the bad news. The good news? San Diego won the clock battle in the game, holding the pigskin for 30:09 to Cincy’s 29:51.

Meanwhile, the Vikings evened their record with a 26-16 win over Detroit in the Twin Cities last Sunday, sending the Lions to their second loss of the 2015 campaign in the process. Adrian Peterson was back to his old form, rushing for 134 of Minnesota’s 199, while the defense held Detroit to 38. Although he was sacked only once, Teddy Bridgewater did manage to throw for 153 yards and a TD without tossing an interception. Minnesota went 7 of 14 on third down and held the ball for 31:06, while the Lions held it for 28:54, going 6 of 13 on third down, 2 of 2 on fourth.

The Bolts hold a 6-5 lead in the series, which includes contests that were played at old Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington and the Metrodome. San Diego has outscored the Purple Gang Chargers 286-248 and won the last meeting in San Diego in 2011 by a 24-17 final. (Minnesota’s last win over the Chargers came in 2007 by a final of 35-17 in the Twin Cities). Minnesota is favored by 1 and the over/under is 45 1/2. Vikings improve to 2-1 at home, covering the 1.

Jacksonville (1-1) at New England (2-0), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 708. Jacksonville broke a 20-20 tie late in the fourth quarter thanks in part to a 28-yard field goal by rookie K Jason Myers with 40 second left in regulation to win over their instate rivals from Miami 23-20. Jacksonville led 20-13 at the half before the Dolphins rallied to tie things up in the third quarter when TE Jake Stoneburner and QB Ryan Tannehill connected on a five-yard pass early in the third quarter. Jacksonville did manage to outrush Miami 123-42 and Jaguar QB Blake Bortles threw a pair of TDs without being sacked or picked off. Jacksonville and Miami struggled on third down conversions in the Sunshine State battle (the Jaguars were 5 of 14, Miami was 5 of 15; Miami was 0 of 1 on fourth down conversions) and the clock was the ally of Jacksonville, who kept the ball for 30:08, while Miami had it for 29:52.

New England made life somewhat miserable for Bills QB Tyrod Taylor, sacking him eight times and coming away with a hard-earned 40-32 win in Orchard Park. New England led 24-13 at the half and then managed to hold the Bills at bay in the second half. Buffalo did manage to outrush New England 160-56 but New England managed to force three turnovers in the contest. Buffalo was 4 of 13 on third down tries, while the Pats were 3 of 10 (Buffalo on fourth down went 1 of 1, while New England was 0-2). As far as the clock… time was on the side of the Bills, who held the ball for 30:03, while the Pats kept it for 29:57.

They’ve met six times and the Pats have taken all six meetings, with the last win coming in Jacksonville in 2012 by a 23-16 final. New England’s favored by 14 and the over/under is 47 1/2. Jacksonville’s played some decent football of late but the Pats are the defending champs. The Jaguars make this one closer than the 14 but New England prevails at home.

Philadelphia (0-2) at New York Jets (2-0), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 714. Philly makes the 93 minute drive up I-95 to face off against the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! at Met Life Stadium in the Meadowlands. It’s cheesesteak vs. Manhattan clam chowder in upstate New Jersey.

The Eagles dropped their second contest in as many tries, falling to Dallas 20-10 in the City of Brotherly Love last SUnday. Even though they trailed 6-0 at the half, the Eagles saw the wheels come off the bus in the second half as they were outscored 14-10 in the final 30 minutes of play. Philadelphia was held to a really dismal 7 yards rushing. while Dallas tallied 109. The Eagles’ defense did manage to sack Tony Romo three times, knocking him out of the contest with a broken collarbone, while Sam Bradford threw for 224 yards in the loss. Philly turned the ball over in the 10-point loss at home, while going 2 of 11 on third down conversions (they did manage to go 1 of 1 on fourth down) and held the ball for 19:30, while Dallas played keep-away with the pigskin, holding it for 40:30, going 4 of 12 on third down.

GangGreen led from start to finish last Monday night against Indianapolis, taking a 20-7 win with them out of the Hoosier State. The J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! led 10-0 at the half and never looked back, forcing the Colts to turn the ball over five times (three Luck interceptions) to lose 20-7. Indy was held to 93 yards, while the Jets, who led from start to finish, tallied 101. Third down tries? The Jets were 4 of 12, while the Colts were 6 of 14. The Jets also won the time of possession battle, keepin the ball for 31:48 to Indy’s 28:12.

They’ve met nine times and the Eagles have won all nine games, outscoing GangGreen 247-154. The two clubs last met in 2011 in the City of Brotherly Love and Philly came out on top 45-19. Philly’s favored by 2 1/2 and the over/under’s 48 1/2. Philly has been struggling of late and the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! would like nothing more than to make them pay for it. GangGreen covers the 2 1/2 and wins at home.

Pittsburgh (1-1) at St. Louis (1-1), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 709. A pair of 1-1 teams meet in the Great Midwest as Pittsburgh and St. Louis square off in the great indoors.

The Steelers manhandled Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers 43-18 at Heinz Field last Sunday afternoon. Even though they were outrushed by San Francisco 111-84, Ben Roethlisberger threw for 369 yards and three TDs without being sacked or intercepted, while Kaepernick was sacked five times, despite throwing a pair of TDs.

The Rams lead the series 15-7-2 and have outscored Pittsburgh 481-436, which includes contests that were played when the Rams were in Cleveland before moving to Los Angeles, then moving to St. Louis and the Steelers were knonw as the Pittsburgh Pirates. Pittsburgh has won the last two meetings, including shutting out the Rams 27-0 in the Steel City in 2011, while the Rams’ last win in the series came in 2003 in Pittsburgh by a final of 33-21. The two met in Super Bowl XIV and it was Pittsburgh coming away with a 31-19 win in the Rose Bowl. In front of 103,985 people, the Steelers won their fourth Super Bowl and the only team to win back-to-back Super Bowls twice, while Terry Bradshaw was named the game’s MVP. The Steelers are favored by 2 1/2 and the over/under’s 48. Steelers cover the 2 1/2 and win on the road.

Indianapolis (0-2) at Tennessee (1-1), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 710. It’s a pair of top draft picks facing off against one another as Andrew Luck and the winless Colts host Marcus Mariotta and the Tennessee Titans in the Hoosier State.

In the battle of former Heisman winners, it was Johnny Manziel coming out on top against Mariotta, as he threw a pair of TDs to give Tennessee a 28-14 loss along the shores of Lake Erie last Sunday. Tennessee trailed 21-0 at the half and made things closer than expected in the second half. Mariotta was sacked seven times in the contest, while Johnny Manziel threw a pair of TDs in the win at home without being sacked himself. Tennessee did manage to outrush Cleveland 166-116 in the game but turned the ball over three times (fumbles) to seal the win. Tennessee went 7 of 16 on third down tries (2 of 2 on fourth down), keeping the ball for 35:11 to Cleveland’s 24:49, with the Browns going 4 of 11 on third down (0 of 1 on fourth down).

Indy trailed the New York Jets 10-0 at the half last Monday night at home before the wheels came off completely, with the Colts turning the ball over five times (three Luck interceptions) to lose 20-7. Indy was held to 93 yards, while the Jets, who led from start to finish, tallied 101. Third down tries? The Jets were 4 of 12, while the Colts were 6 of 14. The Jets also won the time of possession battle, keepin the ball for 31:48 to Indy’s 28:12.

The Colts lead the series 27-13 (which includes games that were played when the Colts were in Baltimore and the Titans were in Houston and known as the Oilers), have outscored Tennessee 1,020-757 and have won seven of their last eight meetings.. They met last year and the Colts swept both meetings (Tennessee’s last win over Indy came in 2011, taking a 27-10 win in the Volunteer State) in last year’s campaign. They met in week four in Indy with the Colts winning 41-17. The Colts led 20-10 at the half and never looked back, holding Tennessee to 85 yards rushing , while rushing for 105 themselves. Luck threw for four TDs in the win, despite being picked off once (Charlie Whitehurst was sacked three times). Indy went 7 of 14 on third down conversions in the contest and kept the ball for 42:21, while the Titans were 1 of 9, keeping the pigskin for 17:39.

The second meeting was in the Music City in week 17 and the Colts led 17-7 at the half, going on to win 27-10. The Titans did manage to break the 100-yard rushing barrier in the second meeting, rushing for 142 (Indy could only muster 64) but Whitehurst again was the victim of being sacked four times in a game that meant nothing to Tennessee and a dress rehearsal for the Colts. Again, third down tries for both teams were slim pickings at best (Indy was 5 of 16, while Tennessee was 4 of 16) but both clubs managed to go 1 of 3 on fourth down tries. Indy won the battle of the clock, keeping the ball for 33:26 to Tennessee’s 26:34.

Indy won by 24 in the week four contest at home, covering the 7 1/2 point spread with ease and both teams easily covered t    45 1/2 over/under with 58 points. The week 17 contest, which closed out the regular season for both clubs, saw the Colts, win by 17 (they were favored by 7). That was the good news. The bad news? They missed the 46 1/2 over/under, scoring only 37 points. The oddsmakers are being kind to the Colts, making them 4 1/2 points favorites with the over/under at 48. The Colts are struggling, the Titans are trying to find their way back to relevance. If you’re a fan of either team, watch; otherwise, watch that “NCIS” marathon on USA (yes, we still think that Ziva headslapping Tony is worth the time). Colts cover the 4 1/2 and win back home again in Indiana.

San Francisco (1-1) at Arizona (2-0), 4:05 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 714. A pair of NFC West foes meet in the desert Sunday afternoon as San Francisco travels to Glendale to face the Arizona Cardinals.

San Francisco struggled in the Steel City last Sunday and fell to Ben Rothlisberger and Pittsburgh 43-18 at Heinz Field. Even though San Francisco outrushed the Steelers 111-84, Pittsburgh managed to sack Colin Kaepernick five times, while Rothlisberger threw for three TDs without being sacked or intercepted. Pittsburgh was 6 of 11 on third down tries in the 25-point win at home and kept the ball for 23:01, while the 49ers held it for 36:59 and struggled on third down, going 7 of 17 (3 of 5 on fourth).

The Desert Angry Birds won their second game in as many weeks as they took Da Bears to the woodshed last Sunday at Soldier Field 48-23. Arizona led 28-20 at the half in the Windy City before pulling away from Chicago in the second half 20-3. Arizona outrushed Da Bears 115-109 and forced a pair of Chicago turneovers in the win. The Desert Angry Birds went 5 of 9 on third down and 1 of 1 on fourth down, while Chicago was 2 of 12 and 0 of 1 in the same catagories. Arizona also won the battle of the clock, keeping the ball for 30:04 to Chicago’s 29:56.

The 49ers lead the series 29-18 (which includes contests that were played when the Cards were in St. Louis and the 49ers played their home games at Candlestick) and have outscored the Desert Angry Birds 1,118-917. San Francisco and Arizona spilt their two meetings in the 2014 campaign, with each team winning in front of their home crowds. In week three in the desert, Arizona trailed 14-6 at the half before scoring 17 second half points unchallenged to take a 23-14 win. Neither club broke or came close to the 100-yard barrier (San Francisco tallied 82 yards, while the Cards tallied 84) and it became an arms race of sorts at Kaepernick barely outpassed Drew Stanton 245-244, although Stanton did have a pair of TD passes in the game (Arizona’s Michael Floyd led all recievers with 114 yards, while San Francisco’s Sean Johnson had 103 yards). The Desert Angry Birds were 8 of 13 on third down conversions and kept the ball for 27:40, while the 49ers were 6 of 13, keeping the ball for 32:20 (both clubs were successfull in their only fourth down try in the contest).

Game two would be the end of the regular season for both clubs and it would wind up along San Francisco Bay in Santa Clara and this time, the 49ers got revenge on Arizona by rallying in the third quarter to take a 20-17 win after trailing 17-13 at halftime. This time, San Francisco’s running game went to work, as Frank Gore ran for 144 yards (San Francisco rushed for 206, while Arizona failed to reach the 100-yard barrier again, rushing for 98 yards). Floyd was once again the star of the passing game, taking 153 yards on eight catches. As far as third down tries? Not a lot to talk about there (San Francisco went 5 of 12, Arizona went 4 of 10) but Arizona did win the time of possession battle, keeping the ball for 30:36 to the 49ers’ 29:24.

The week three contest in the desert saw San Francisco go in as 3 points favorites and Arizona covered the spread, winning by 9. Neither team managed to reach the 42 1/2 over/under, as they combined for 37 points. San Francisco was favored again in the week 17 contest on the Left Coast at 5 1/2 points but won by 3. However… both teams barely covered the 36 1/2 over/under by combining for 37 points. Arizona’s a 6 1/2 point favorite in the desert this Sunday and the over/under is 44 1/2. Both numbers make a lot of sense and while this one’s not quite “Drill worthy,” it’ll be worth your time and energy. Arizona may not cover the 6 1/2 but they take the win at home in their nest.

Buffalo (1-1) at Miami (1-1), 4:25 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 716. Miami returns to South Beach to host the Bills in the Sunshine State in a late afternoon AFC East matchup. Both teams enter the contest with even records and losses from last week under their belts.

The Bills fell to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots last Sunday in Orchard Park by a 40-32 final. Buffalo trailed the defending Super Bowl champions 24-13 at the half and made things a bit too close for the comfort of the Pats. Buffalo did manage to outrush New England 160-56 but turned the ball over three times in the loss with QB Tyrod Taylor being sacked eight times. Neither club did anything of great excitement on third down tries, as Buffalo was 4 of 13, while the Pats were 3 of 10 (Buffalo on fourth down went 1 of 1, while New England was 0-2). As far as the clock… time was on the side of the Bills, who held the ball for 30:03, while the Pats kept it for 29:57.

Miami leads the series 57-40-1, while outscoring Buffalo 2,096-1,823 and the two teams spilt last year’s meetings with each team taking wins at home. In the first meeting, along the shores of Lake Erie in week two, Buffalo took a 9-0 halftime lead over Miami and held the Dolphins to 10 third quarter points to win in Orchard Park 29-10. Buffalo rushed for 113 and held Miami to 80 in the 19-point win in upstate New York, while sacking Tannehill four times and picking him off once. Third down conversions in the first meeting was like kryptonite to Superman, as neither club breached the 50 percent mark (Buffalo was 5 of 15, Miami was 5 of 14 and 1 of 4 on fourth down tries) but Miami had the clock in their favor, keeping the ball for 31:17 to Buffalo’s 28:43.

Game two would see Miami get revenge in the Sunshine State, as the Dolphins erased a 6-3 halftime lead to win 22-9. This time, Miami managed to outrush the Bills 125-74 in the second meeting in week 11. Although Tannehill was sacked five times in the contest, he did manage to play a interception-free contest, throwing for 240 yards and a pair of TDs. The two clubs on third down were nothing to write home about in the rematch (Buffalo was 6 of 15, 0 of 2 on fourth down; Miami 4 of 9) and Miami ruled the clock again, keeping the ball for 32:22, while the Bills kept it for 27:38.

In the first contest in week two in upstate New York, Buffalo was a 1-point favorite and covered the spread with their 19-point win but both teams missed the 42 1/2 over/under, scoring 39 points. Miami covered the 5 point spread in week 11 in the Sunshine State by winning by 13 but both clubs missed the over/under again, scoring 31 points. Miami’s favored by 2 1/2 in the Sunshine State and the over/under is 43 1/2. Both numbers make a lot of sense. Both teams are 1-1. Miami covers the 2 1/2 and wins at home in the Sunshine State.

Chicago (0-2) at Seattle (0-2), 4:25 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 717. A pair of 0-2s meet in the land of grunge, salmon and Starbucks as Chicago travels westward to Seattle to face off against the defending NFC champion Seahawks.

Da Bears struggled against Arizona last Sunday at Solider field and fell to the Desert Angry Birds 48-23. Even though they only trailed 28-20 at halftime, Arizona managed to pull away from Chicago in the second half to take the loss. Chicago was outrushed 115-109 and Jimmy Clausen, who took over for Jay Cutler, was sacked twice in the loss. Chicago was a dismal 2 of 17 on third down tries in the lopsided loss in front of the home crowd (0 of 1 on fourth down) and held the ball for 29:56, while Arizona held the pigskin for 30:04, while going 5 of 8 and 1 of 1 on third and fourth down tries.

In their 27-17 loss to Green Bay at Lambeau last Sunday night, Seattle was outrushed by the Packers 127-119 and Russell Wilson, despite throwing for a pair of TDs, was sacked twice and threw an interception in the 10-point loss. Seattle trailed 13-3 at the break but managed to play the Packers pretty even in the second half. Seattle went 3 of 9 on third down tries (Green Bay was 4 of 11) and held the ball for 26:42 to Green Bay’s 33:18.

Seattle holds a 10-4 lead in the series, have outscored Chicago 307-290 and have won the last three regular season contests with Da Bears, including a 23-17 overtime win in 2012 in the Windy City (Chicago’s last win in the series came in 2009 in the Pacific Northwest by a final of 25-19. Seattle’s favored by 15 1/2 (the largest spread this year) and the over/under’s 45. Both teams have struggled and both are pretty but they’re not 15 1/2 points bad. If you’re a fan of either team, go ahead and watch this one; otherwise beg your wife/girlfriend/significant other to take you to that Seattle wins this one but they won’t cover the 15 1/2.

Denver (2-0) at Detroit (0-2), 8:30 p.m. on NBC. Denver and Detroit, a pair of teams with mirror records meet in the Motor City as the Broncons and Peyton Manning square off against Megatron (Calvin Johnson), Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions.

The Broncos improved to 2-0 last week by scoring 14 points in a nine-second span in the final minute of the fourth quarter to pull out a stunning 31-24 win at Kansas City. Denver quarterback Peyton Manning connected with wide receiver Emmanuel  Sanders on a 19-yard touchdown pass – the pair’s second TD connection of the game – with 36 seconds left to tie the game at 24. On the ensuing drive, Broncos cornerback Bradley Roby returned a fumble 21 yards for the game-winning score with 27 seconds remaining in the game. Kansas City outrushed Denver 144-61 but turned the ball over five times in the loss. The Chiefs on third down tries in the loss to their AFC West rivals were dismal, as in 0 for 7 and held the ball for 28:59, while Denver was 6 of 16 on third down and 0 of 1 on fourth down, keeping the ball for 31:01.

“I’m not quite sure I’ve ever been in one quite like that,” says Manning, who became the second quarterback in NFL history to reach 70,000 passing yards (70,122). “I’ve been involved in a couple of pretty crazy games but nothing quite like this.”

The Lions, who won 11 games and advanced to the postseason last year, are seeking their first victory of 2015. Johnson had 10 catches and a touchdown last week. Since the start of the 2011 season, Johnson leads the NFL with 6,336 receiving yards and is averaging more than 100 yards per game (103.9). Over that same span, Stafford has passed for 19,444 yards, the second most in the league. Detroit trailed Minnesota last Sunday in the Twin Cities at halftime 17-10 before the Vikings pulled away to win at home 26-16. Adrian Peterson ran amok, rushing for 134 of the Vikings’ 199, while holding Detroit to a dismal 38. Johnson did manage to catch 10 balls for 83 yards and a TD (Stafford had a pair of TD passes but also threw an interception). Minnesota held serve on third down tries, going 7 of 14 (1 of 1 on fourth down), as they would hold the ball for 31:06, while the Lions were 6 of 13 and 2 of 2 on third and fourth down, holding the pigskin for 28:54.

“We’ve got to be more consistent,” Detroit head coach Jim Caldwell told the Detroit Free Press. “We’re going to make sure that we get ourselves headed in the right direction.” Denver leads the series 6-5 but Detroit has outscored the Broncos 248- 235 and has won the last two meetings, including a 45-10 win in the Motor City in 2011 (Denver’s last win in the series? A 20-16 win in the Mile High City in 2003).

Detroit’s favored by 7 with a 48 over/under. Both clubs have pretty good QBs but Manning’s better. Denver covers the 7 in the Motor City and comes away with the win.

Kansas City (1-1) at Green Bay (2-0), 8:30 p.m. Monday on ESPN. A rematch of the very first Super Bowl takes place in the land of cheese, beer and bratwurst as the Chiefs travel to Lambeau Field to take on Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packes as the curtain for week three draws to a close.

The Chiefs let a late fourth-quarter lead slip away in Week 2 and dropped their first game of the season by a final of 31-24 to Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. They’ll look to rebound on Monday night when they travel to Green Bay in a rematch of Super Bowl I. Jamaal Charles led all rushers in the Thursday night affair with 125 yards on the ground (Kansas City outrushed 144-61) but turned the ball over five times in the loss. The Chiefs on third down tries in the loss to their AFC West rivals were dismal, as in 0 for 7 and held the ball for 28:59, while Denver was 6 of 16 on third down (0 of 1 on fourth down), keeping the ball for 31:01.

“We love the challenge of playing good football teams,” Chiefs head coach Andy Reid told the Kansas City Star and USA Today. “You work like crazy to be a good team yourself and you cherish those opportunities to be challenged. That’s what kind of game this will be.” Manning in the win threw for 256 yards and three TDs, while Alex Smith was sacked four times and picked off twice.

One challenge will be shutting down Green Bay’s vaunted offense led by its quarterback and reigning NFL Most Valuable Player Aaron Rodgers, who threw two touchdown passes and posted a 116.9 passer rating in last Sunday night’s 27-17 win over Seattle. Over his past 18 games at home (including the postseason), he has now thrown 43 touchdowns and no interceptions while posting a 124 passer rating. The Packers outrushed Seattle 127-119 and Rodgers outpaced Russell Wilson 249-206 (each threw a pair of TDs. Neither club did anything to write home about on third down tries as the Seahawks were Seattle 3 of 9 on third down tries and Green Bay was 4 of 11. The Packers also won the battle of the clock, holding on to the ball for 33:18 to Seattle’s 26:42.

“It was a good win for us,” says Rodgers about beating the Seahawks. “But it’s only Week 2. All it means is that we’re 2-0.”

The Chiefs lead the series 7-2-1 and have outscored Green Bay 202-166 (which includes games that were played in Milwaukee), with Kansas City’s last win in the series coming in 2011 at Arrowhead Stadium by a final of 19-14. while the Packers’ last win also came at Arrowhead in 2007 33-22. It was the first meeting between the two teams in 1966 that started the ball rolling as they met in Los Angeles (CBS and NBC covered the game) and Bart Starr outpaced Len Dawson and the Chiefs in that very first meeting 35-10. Green Bay’s favored by 6 1/2 and the over/under comes in at 48. Both numbers make a ton of sense.

Even though it’s a Monday night contest, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a gathering of family and friends over. That means that this one is “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!), 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 55 and dates a 40-year old ex-Marine, who’s now a football coach at the high school in your town. She’s also the one that ate an entire Oreo cheesecake, two bags of Cool Ranch Doritos, two bacon cheeseburgers with blue cheese and chugged two 2-liter Cokes at your Super Bowl party last year and didn’t gain a pound. You look at her and say to yourself, “what the hell?”
The Chiefs are 23-17 on Monday night, while the Packers have okay but not great in prime time, carrying a 29-31-1 mark with them into the contest. Chiefs make it close but Green Bay takes the win at home in the land of cheese, beer and bratwurst.