GOLD JACKET GAME OF THE WEEK
NEW ENGLAND @ SEATTLE, 8:20 p.m. (EDT)
The line: Seahawks by 4
The weather: Partly cloudy, high of 69
The story: The Seahawks are home, where they’re one of the league’s most difficult outs. Reason: Fans. They’re so loud they’re considered the 12 Man. One problem: They won’t be here. So it’s studio football, with Russell Wilson vs. Cam Newton. Both were impressive in last week’s wins, with one so marvelous that Patriots’ coach Bill Belichick called him the best quarterback in the game. Hint: It wasn’t Cam.
Something to consider: Under Belichick, New England is 51-1 when one of its players rushes for 100 yards.
THREE OTHERS WORTHY OF HALL OF FRAMING
LOS ANGELES RAMS @ PHILADELPHIA, 1 p.m. (EDT)
The line: Eagles by 1
The weather: Sunny, high of 64
The story: It’s all about pass protection, and I’m not talking about the Rams. With a depleted offensive line, Eagles’ quarterback Carson Wentz was treated like a piñata by Washington … Washington … sacked eight times and forced into three critical turnovers. That can’t happen again, but tell me: How do you like his chances vs. Aaron Donald? Donald has five sacks in his last five road games.
Something to consider: Wentz had 12 TDs and two interceptions in eight home games last season.
WASHINGTON @ ARIZONA, 4:05 p.m. (EDT)
The line: Cards by 7
The weather: Sunny, high of 105 (retractable roof)
The story: OK, so these are two teams that finished last in their divisions a year ago. But that was then, this is now … and now they’re on top. At least for one week. It’s the Cards’ Air Raid offense vs. a swarming defense that was all over Carson Wentz and the Eagles, and quick question: Does defense trump offense? Oddsmakers say it will. Reason: They believe in Kyler Murray; not so much in Dwayne Haskins.
Something to consider: Arizona’s Chandler Jones has three sacks and a forced fumble in four career games vs. Washington. Since 2016 he leads the NFL with 61 sacks.
BALTIMORE @ HOUSTON, 4:25 p.m. (EDT)
The line: Ravens by 7-1/2
The weather: Showers, high of 78 (retractable roof)
The story: Somebody in the NFL scheduling department doesn’t like the Texans. They faced the 2018 MVP (Patrick Mahomes) a week ago. Now it's the reigning MVP (Lamar Jackson). But why stop there? Pittsburgh is next Sunday. Then it's Minnesota the week after. There’s potential there for a 0-4 start, and heaven help Bill O’Brien if that happens. Already, the ghost of DeAndre Hopkins is beginning to haunt him.
Something to consider: The Texans won eight straight coming off regular-season losses.
OUR BEST BETS
CLARK JUDGE – Seahawks (--4). Consider this a belated birthday present for Pete Carroll.
RON BORGES – Baltimore (--7-1/2). The Ravens look to be rolling, and the Texans look like the same ol’ Texans – i.e., dangerous to others but also to themselves.
RICK GOSSELIN – Minnesota (+3). The Vikings have a healthy Dalvin Cook. The Colts don’t have their 1,000-yard back, Marlon Mack.
FIVE NUMBERS THAT MATTER
2 – Passing TDs needed by Dak Prescott to become the third quarterback in league history to have at least 100 career passing touchdowns and 20 rushing scores. Jeff Garcia and Cam Newton are the others.
6 – If/when DeAndre Hopkins catches that many passes Sunday he sets an NFL record for the most catches by a player in his first two games of a season. The current record is 18, held by Earl Cooper (1980) and Eric Metcalf (1995).
31 – Passing yards DeShaun Watson needs to become the first player in league history to produce 10,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards in his first 40 games.
48 – Yards rushing needed for Cam Newton to pass Randall Cunningham for the most in a career by a quarterback. Cunningham has 4,928. Only Michael Vick (6,109) had more.
377 – Passing yards needed for Patrick Mahomes to reach 10,000 for his career. He would pass Kurt Warner, who is the fastest players (36 games) to get there. Mahomes has played in 32.
THEY SAID IT
Honestly, I think in a way he’s maybe underrated by the media and the fans. I really don’t really see anybody better than this player.” – New England coach Bill Belichick on Russell Wilson.
“Aaron Donald, he’s a monster … He is a game wrecker.” – Philadelphia quarterback Carson Wentz.
"Do I think I'm the best quarterback in the NFL? I believe so, without a doubt." -- Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson on the Dan Patrick Show.
THE SUNDAY OMG
The Broncos have lost four games under Vic Fangio where they held the lead with 30 seconds remaining in regulation. Detroit is the only other team since last season with multiple losses (2) in that situation.
The Chiefs have won 12 straight games in September and are 13-1 in the month over the past five seasons, best in the NFL.
FIVE GUYS TO WATCH
Detroit RB Adrian Peterson. He scored a rushing TD in each of his last eight games at Lambeau Field, a streak spanning 12 seasons and two teams (Minnesota and Washington). The longest streak at visiting stadiums is 10, set by former Chargers’ great LaDainian Tomlinson at the Oakland Coliseum.
N.Y. Giants WR Darrius Slayton. Dating back to 2019, he’s the only receiver with four games with two or more TD catches in each. He had two vs. Pittsburgh in this year’s season opener.
Green Bay RB Aaron Jones. He had 11 scrimmage TDs (10 rush, one pass) in eight regular-season home games last season.
Atlanta QB Matt Ryan. He’s thrown for over 300 yards in six of his last eight road games.
Tennessee RB Derrick Henry. He can become the second player in franchise history to produce 11 consecutive games with 80 scrimmage yards, joining former Titans’ back Chris Johnson (12).
TEN THINGS YOU MIGHT WANT TO KNOW
1. Since realignment in 2002, 60.6 percent of teams (131 of 216) that started 1-1 or 0-2 reached the playoffs, including three division champions in 2019.
2. Since entering the NFL in 2016, Dak Prescott has 98 touchdown passes and 21 rushing TDs, the most by any quarterback in the NFL during that time.
3. No team has blocked more kicks than Denver since 2018.
4. New Orleans has the best regular-season record (25-5) over the past 30 games.
5. Since 2014, the New England Patriots lead everyone in win percentage (94.1) when leading at halftime. They’re 64-4. The Los Angeles Rams are second at 27-2 (93.1).
6. Kansas City is in the midst of a 10-game winning streak (including the 2019 playoffs) where they average 31. 8 points per game on offense and allow 16.4 on defense.
7. Carolina is an NFL-best 23-1 since 2014 when committing no turnovers.
8. Pittsburgh won six of its last eight games on short weeks following Monday Night Football. The Steelers also won four or more home games in each of the past 20 straight seasons, the longest active streak in the NFL.
9. Since the 1970 merger this is the first time no team failed to play two consecutive home or road games the first two weeks of the season. Every team that was on the road last week is home this weekend, and every home team on Kickoff Weekend is traveling.
10. Since Seattle’s Super Bowl XLIX loss to New England in February, 2015, Russell Wilson has more touchdown passes (159) than anyone in the NFL.
With little practice in recent weeks, the Tennessee Titans have risen to the top of the NFL power poll
With the first loss suffered by the Green Bay Packers the AFC stormed the top of the NFL rankings this week with the Tennessee Titans leading the charge. Four of the Top 5 teams in this week's poll call the AFC home. Six of the Top 10 teams compete in the AFC.