The Sunday GPS: How do the Cowboys slow down Russell Wilson and Seattle?
GOLD JACKET GAME OF THE WEEKEND
DALLAS @ SEATTLE, 4:25 p.m. (EDT)
The line: Seahawks by 5
The weather: Partly cloudy, high of 71
The story: Mike McCarthy swears he won’t slow down the Dallas offense to keep Russell Wilson off the field, but I’m not sure he wants to get into a game of tennis here. In fact, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t. Wilson already shredded two opponents for nine TD passes. So what do you think happens to a Dallas team that hemorrhaged 39 points to Atlanta? Keeping Wilson on the sidelines is precisely what you do, but only if Zeke Elliott can promise not to fumble. We know Seattle is going to make the playoffs. What we don’t know is if the Cowboys can or will. This game might give us an answer.
Something to consider: Dating back to last season, Seattle is an NFL-best 11-2 in one-score games.
THREE OTHERS WORTHY OF HALL OF FRAMING
LAS VEGAS @ NEW ENGLAND, 1 p.m. (EDT)
The line: Patriots by 6
The weather: Partly cloudy, high of 81
The story: The Raiders are undefeated, yet they’re a one-touchdown underdog. Five reasons: 1) New England is home, where it loses about as often as Vince Vaughn gets nominated for an Oscar (they’re 122-23 in Gillette for regular-season games); 2) Cam Newton … correction, “Slam Newton” … has turned back the clock; 3) the Raiders are going cross country on a short week; 4) Henry Ruggs is out, and Josh Jacobs and Darren Waller are questionable, and 5) oddsmakers just aren’t sold on Vegas. Not yet. But they could be after this game. I said could. Which is why this is more about the Raiders than it is New England.
Something to consider: The Raiders are the second-least penalized team (honest) in the NFL behind … you guessed it … New England. Las Vegas has been flagged six times this year; the Patriots five.
L.A. RAMS @ BUFFALO, 1 p.m. (EDT)
The line: Bills by 1-1/2
The weather: Mostly sunny, high of 79
The story: After last week’s win over Miami, Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen said he didn’t think many teams could keep up with the Bills’ receivers. He may be right. But this is one team that can. Allen is off to a marvelous start … and so are his pass catchers. In two starts, all he’s done is complete his first 300-yard game, then follow with his first 400-yard game; thrown for six TDs and run for another; produce no interceptions; put up a 122.8 passer rating and win the blessing of Rams' cornerback Jalen Ramsey. He once called Allen "trash." Not anymore. This week he confessed that the quarterback is "talented" and "presents challenges." But the challenge Sunday is on Allen to solve Ramsey, Aaron Donald and the NFL’s third-ranked scoring defense (18.0 points per). The Bills believe this is their year. Here’s a chance to prove it.
Something to consider: Donald has five sacks in his last six road games.
GREEN BAY @ NEW ORLEANS, 8:20 p.m. (EDT)
The line: Saints by 3-1/2
The weather: Dome
The story: They’re the NFL’s highest scoring team with the No. 1-ranked offense and a Hall-of-Fame quarterback waiting to happen. The Saints? Nope. Green Bay. The Packers average 42.5 points a game, and Aaron Rodgers is playing as if he intends to keep Jordan Love nailed to the bench. But contrary to what you’ve heard, this ain’t the Big Easy. Yeah, I know, New Orleans is coming off a short week, but my guess is that Drew Brees has had it up to here with the Tipping Point People. Look for him to answer with an explosive rebuttal.
Something to consider: Brees has seven straight starts vs. Green Bay with 300 or more yards passing.
OUR BEST BETS
CLARK JUDGE – Atlanta (--3-1/2). Simple. Matt Ryan vs. Mitch Trubisky. Check, please.
RON BORGES – Tampa Bay (--5-1/2). A classic trap bet. Why would you NOT take Denver at home, plus 5-1/2 points? Because the noise factor is on COVID-19 lockdown, and the Broncos have a ton of injuries. I’ll take TB12 and lay the 5-1/2 points to the home dog.
RICK GOSSELIN – Atlanta (--3-1/2). Matt Ryan has passed for an NFC-leading 723 yards and six touchdowns but has nothing to show for it. The Falcons are due.
FIVE NUMBERS THAT MATTER
0-2 – Bill O’Brien vs. Pittsburgh.
4 – Ryan Tannehill games with passer ratings of 140 or higher since 2018, tied with Drew Brees for most in the NFL.
52-1 – New England’s record since 2000 when a Patriot runs for 100 yards in a regular-season game.
66.2 – League-wide completion rate, the highest ever through two games.
96.2 – League-wide passer rating, also the highest-ever through two games.
THEY SAID IT
“I don’t think many teams can keep up with all our receivers.” – Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen.
“This guy’s a great quarterback.” – Raiders coach Jon Gruden on Derek Carr.
THE SUNDAY OMG
Drew Brees averages 4.82 yards per pass attempt, the lowest through the first two games for any NFL quarterback since Brett Favre in 2009.
FIVE GUYS TO WATCH
ATLANTA WR CALVIN RIDLEY. With at least 100 yards and one touchdown reception, he becomes the fifth receiver in league history to produce 100 yards receiving and one TD reception in each of his first three games. The others are Marvin Harrison (1999), Randy Moss (2007), Jerry Rice (1989) and Dwight Clark (1982). All but Clark are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
ARIZONA WR LARRY FITZGERALD. He needs only two catches Sunday to pass Jerry Rice for the most receptions in a career in one stadium. Rice had 646 at Candlestick Park. Fitzgerald has 645 at State Farm Stadium.
SEATTLE QB RUSSELL WILSON. He can become the first quarterback with four or more TD passes in each of his team’s first three games.
ARIZONA QB KYLER MURRAY. He’s the first quarterback in the Super Bowl era to have 500 or more passing yards and 150 or more rushing yards through his first two games.
NEW ENGLAND QB CAM NEWTON. With one yard rushing he passes Randall Cunningham for second on the all-time rushing list for quarterbacks.
TEN THINGS YOU MIGHT WANT TO KNOW
1. Through the first two weeks NFL games average 50.3 points per, the highest during that time. It beats the first two weeks of 2019 (43.5) by nearly one touchdown and the first two weeks of 2006 by nearly two (35.6).
2. There are 11 teams at 2-0, tied for the most in NFL history through two games. It ties the previous marks set in 2006 and 1998. What’s more, five of today’s unbeaten teams (Arizona, Chicago, Pittsburgh, the L.A. Rams and Las Vegas) failed to make last season’s playoffs.
3. Since 2006, there have been 17 matchups featuring 2-0 teams. Three teams that won those games went on to win the Super Bowl, while two other winners lost it. Then there’s the 2010 Green Bay Packers. They dropped their third game but went on to win the Super Bowl.
4. Since Week 10 of the 2019 season, Tennessee’s Ryan Tannehill has thrown for two or more TDs in each of his last nine starts.
5. Over the last 30 years, 30 teams overcame 0-2 starts to reach the playoffs, including three that went on to Super Bowls (the 1993 Dallas Cowboys, the 2001 New England Patriots and the 2007 New York Giants).
6. The NFC West (Best?) is 7-1 overall. No other division has more than five wins.
7. Denver is 9-8 overall and 6-7 in the regular season vs. Tom Brady. The Broncos are also 7-4 at home vs. Brady.
8. Cam Newton is the first quarterback in NFL history to rush for four touchdowns in the first two games of the season.
9. A Raiders’ win Sunday would put them at 3-0 for the first time since 2002, the last time they went to the Super Bowl.
10. Arizona is tougher on third-down conversions than anyone in the NFL. The Cardinals allow only 26.1 percent of them.