The Sunday GPS: Forget the bus; it's a hot Carr that has the Chiefs' attention
GOLD JACKET GAME OF THE WEEKEND
KANSAS CITY (8-1) @ LAS VEGAS (6-3), 8:20 p.m. (EDT)
The line: Chiefs by 8
The weather: Covered roof
The story: Despite what you may have heard, this isn’t Revenge of the Greyhounds. So the Raiders’ bus circled Arrowhead in an apparent victory celebration after beating Kansas City a month ago. Big deal. Wouldn’t you? After all, they’re the first team to beat the Chiefs since Nov. 10, 2019 (Tennessee). Nope, the issue here is twofold: 1) How do the Raiders repeat history, and 2) how do they repeat it with most of their defense – and 10 players in total – out of practice this week due to COVID protocol? I don’t know, either, but look for another Derek Carr-Patrick Mahomes duel. Mahomes has only one interception this year, and guess who had it? You’re looking at them. Of course, that was when the Raiders had a defense that practiced. “I don’t know how we can beat these guys with a full lineup at practice … let alone with three-quarters of your lineup not being here,” said Vegas defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. It’s a good question.
Something to consider: Andy Reid is 18-3 following byes, so that bodes well for the Chiefs. So does this: The Raiders haven’t swept the season series since 2012.
THREE OTHERS WORTHY OF HALL OF FRAMING
TENNESSEE (6-3) @ BALTIMORE (6-3), 1:00 p.m. (EDT)
The line: Ravens by 6
The weather: Cloudy, high of 54
The story: Baltimore lost two of its last three. Tennessee? Three of its last four. One of these two is in trouble, and it could be the Ravens. Last year’s MVP, Lamar Jackson, isn’t the same. Neither is an offense held last week to its fewest points (17) with Jackson at quarterback. Or a defense that just was shredded by New England for 173 yards rushing. Bottom line: The Ravens haven’t been the same since they were overrun by … well, Tennessee and Derrick Henry in last season’s playoffs, one of the most painful defeats in franchise history. Injuries, fundamental errors and personnel decisions all contribute to a decline that has this team tied with Cleveland in the AFC North. And that’s the good news. The bad: With their next two opponents (Tennessee and Baltimore on Thanksgiving Day), Jackson faces two opponents that forced him into seven turnovers and two losses. I know, Tennessee has a slew of injuries, including the losses of Jadeveon Clowney and Rodger Saffold, but this comes down to a simple question: If the Ravens couldn’t stop New England’s backs how are they going to defend Henry? I don’t know, either.
Something to consider: The Titans haven’t committed a turnover in six games this season, including the last two.
ATLANTA (3-6) @ NEW ORLEANS (7-2), 1 p.m. (EDT)
The line: Saints by 3-1/2
The weather: (Dome)
The story: OK, the Saints should win this, right? Not so fast. First of all, Atlanta is 3-1 since Raheem Morris took over. Second, Drew Brees isn’t starting for the Saints. Third, someone else is. Reports out of New Orleans say it will be backup Taysom Hill, known more as a gadget player but the No. 2 QB on the depth chart. Nevertheless, you gotta believe Jameis Winston makes an appearance at some point. Picking Hill over Winston is a mild surprise, but it might come down to a couple of things: 1) Experience within the offense (Hill has it, Winston not so much) and 2) turnovers. Winston makes so many he can win games for both teams. A year ago, he threw 33 touchdown passes, and that’s good. But he also threw 30 interceptions – including an NFL-record seven pick-sixes – and that’s not. My guess? We see both guys, and that could work. Remember: New Orleans was 5-0 a year ago when Brees bowed out. Then again, Teddy Bridgewater was the quarterback.
Something to consider: The Saints haven't allowed a 100-yard rusher in 52 consecutive games, the league’s longest streak since the 1970 merger.
GREEN BAY (7-2) @ INDIANAPOLIS (6-3), 4:25 p.m. (EDT)
The line: Colts by 1-1/2
The weather: Showers, high of 44 (retractable roof)
The story: The story? Green Bay is a two-point dog, that’s what. And the reason? Beats me. Maybe it’s because Indianapolis has one of the league’s best defenses, and the Packers don’t. Maybe it’s because Packers’ star Davante Adams is limited with an ankle injury. Maybe it’s because the Packers are coming off a game where they struggled to beat Jacksonville, a one-win team going nowhere. Whatever it is, I don’t get it. Because when it comes down to the most important position on the field Green Bay wins in a landslide. I’m a Philip Rivers fan … and have been for years … but he’s nowhere near Aaron Rodgers now, and that should be apparent Sunday. I know, Indianapolis allows the fourth fewest points and ranks second vs. the pass, but if Baker Mayfield can put up 32 on these guys and Adams cleared to play why can’t Rodgers? Someone? Anyone?
Something to consider: The Colts lead the league in miscellaneous touchdowns with five -- three via interceptions, one by kickoff return and one by blocked punt.
OUR BEST BETS
(All picks are made vs. the spread only)
CLARK JUDGE – Cincinnati (--1-1/2). I’m a glutton for punishment. Going with Bengals a second straight week because Burrow no ordinary Joe (Season record: 4-6).
RON BORGES – Cincinnati (--1-1/2). I hate the idea of the Bengals as a favorite over anyone, including Moeller High, but they’re playing Washington. I’ll lay the point-and-a-half on the road and take Joe Burrow (Season record: 8-2).
RICK GOSSELIN – Pittsburgh (--10). An unbeaten team with a Top-10 defense in both sacks and takeaways vs. a rookie quarterback. Steelers move to 10-0 (Season record: 5-5).
FIVE GUYS TO WATCH
1. Miami QB Tua Tagovailoa. If he wins his fourth straight start, he ties Ben Roethlisberger as the only rookie quarterbacks in the past 40 years to circle the bases. Roethlisberger won his first 13 in 2005.
2. New England CB J.C. Jackson. He can make history with an interception in his sixth consecutive game, tying the league’s longest streak (set most recently by Brian Russell in 2003) since the 1970 NFL merger.
3. Minnesota WR Justin Jefferson. He leads all wide receivers (minimum 40 receptions) with an average of 18.1 yards per catch.
4. Jacksonville RB James Robinson. With 83 yards from scrimmage, he becomes the fifth undrafted player in the common-draft era to reach 1,000 for the season.
5. Tennessee RB Derrick Henry. He has 11 touchdowns (10 rushing, 1 reception) in his last seven road games.
THE SUNDAY OMG
The Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger has been on a team with a record of .500 or better in his first 17 seasons, an NFL record for an individual player.
THE SUNDAY OMG II
In Aaron Rodgers 182 career starts he has 119 wins. In Brett Favre’s first 182 starts he had 119 wins.
THEY SAID IT
“It’s going to take a great effort. It’s going to take all we got.” – Baltimore coach John Harbaugh on how to stop Derrick Henry.
“Nobody’s talked about that.” – Jets coach Adam Gase on Tanking for Trevor.
“He’s on a mission right now to prove that he can be one of the top – if not the best – in football.” – Raiders coach Jon Gruden on Derek Carr.
“I can get better.” – New England QB Cam Newton.
FIVE NUMBERS THAT MATTER
5 – Rookie receivers with at least 500 yards in receptions. They are Justin Jefferson (762), Tee Higgins (603), CeeDee Lamb (595), Jerry Jeudy (552) and Chase Claypool (500).
15 – Teams that have six or more wins, the most in NFL history through the first 10 weeks.
17-1 – Kansas City’s record over its last 18 games, including the playoffs.
19 – Career games for Patrick Mahomes with at least three TD passes.
31 – Times this season a team overcame a 10-point deficit to win, the most ever through the first 10 weeks.
TEN THINGS YOU MIGHT WANT TO REMEMBER
1. The Raiders lead the league in third-down conversions at 50.4 percent. Kansas City is tied for second at 50.0.
2. Pittsburgh’s nine–game winning streak is the second largest single-season run in franchise history (11 in 1975) and its fourth longest ever.
3. Denver’s Vic Fangio owns a 17-8 record in his career as a defensive coordinator or head coach vs. rookie quarterbacks.
4. Kansas City leads the NFL in most receptions of 20 or more yards with 41. Buffalo is second with 38.
5. The defense for the N.Y. Jets … yes, the Jets … has a league-best nine non-scores inside the red zone this year, its most since putting up 11 in 2015.
6. Against the blitz this season, the Chargers’ Justin Herbert has a rating of 124.2 – second-best among ranked quarterbacks.
7. Davante Adams leads all receivers with 280 yards receiving on third down. Justin Jefferson is second with 258 and Keenan Allen third at 257.
8. Pittsburgh’s Chris Boswell has made his last 25 field-goal attempts, including 14 this season (one a 59-yarder).
9. Denver running back Phillip Lindsay is the only player since the 1970 merger to have 470 or more carries without a fumble.
10. Romeo Crennel (73) and Bill Belichick (68) will break the record of oldest combined age of two opposing head coaches, set earlier this season when Belichick’s Patriots played Pete Carroll (69) and Seattle.