GOLD JACKET GAME OF THE WEEKEND
TAMPA BAY @ L.A. RAMS, 4:25 p.m. (EDT)
The weather: Partly cloudy, high of 77
The line: Bucs by 1-1/2
The story: If there’s an NFC team out there that can beat Brady and the Bucs, it’s the Rams. Or so the story goes. They went to Tampa last year and outlasted them, 27-24 … with Jared Goff, no less. But that was then, and this is now … and now the Bucs are riding a 10-game win streak, with Brady leading the league in TD passes. Consider this a measuring stick for one team, and it's not Tampa Bay.
Something to consider: The road team in this series won each of the past three games.
THREE OTHERS WORTHY OF HALL OF FRAMING
CHICAGO @ CLEVELAND, 1 p.m. (EDT)
The weather: Partly cloudy, high of 68
The line: Browns by 7
The story: Let’s be honest: What makes this interesting is Chicago’s Justin Fields. Period. He makes his first start at quarterback, and he does it in the state where he was a college star. This is billed as his audition. Don’t believe it. He’s here to stay, and Bears’ fans are happy … for now. Stay tuned.
Something to consider: The Bears won their last nine vs. AFC North opponents.
L.A. CHARGERS @ KANSAS CITY, 1 p.m. (EDT)
The weather: Sunny, high of 90
The line: Chiefs by 6-1/2
The story: The Chargers beat these guys once last year and could have – no, should have – won twice. These Chargers are supposed to be better. These Chiefs don’t look so formidable, losing once and coming this close to losing twice. It’s Mahomes vs. Herbert, and it doesn’t get much better than this. Take the over ... and, if you're the Bolts, take the ball and run, run, run.
Something to consider: The Chargers, not the Chiefs, lead the league in third-down conversions at 61.3 percent.
GREEN BAY @ SAN FRANCISCO, 8:20 p.m. (EDT)
The weather: Mostly sunny, high of 77
The line: 49ers by 3
The story: Stop if you heard this before: Aaron Rodgers isn’t happy. Only now he’s ticked off by critics who thought he looked more like Cliff Klavin in the Packers’ season opener. Sorry, but he did. Then Detroit happened, and, suddenly, he looks like Aaron Rodgers again. But this ain’t the Lions. So will the real Aaron Rodgers please stand up? That’s why we’re here.
Something to consider: The 49ers surrendered just one sack this season, fewest in the league.
OUR BEST BETS
(All picks made vs. the spread)
RON BORGES – Arizona (--8). Jags will struggle to score. The Cards won’t. (SEASON RECORD: 0-2).
RICK GOSSELIN – Las Vegas (--3-1/2). If you don’t believe in Derek Carr and the 2021 Raiders by now, you should start. (SEASON RECORD: 1-0-1)
CLARK JUDGE – Arizona (--8). Urban Renewal still on hold in Jacksonville. (SEASON RECORD 1-1).
STAT OF THE WEEK
Jared Goff 0-9 is without Sean McVay as his head coach.
FIVE GUYS TO WATCH
1. DAVANTE ADAMS, WR, Green Bay. He hasn’t gone three consecutive games without scoring since midway through the 2019 season ... and he shouldn't. He’s the only player in league history to score TDs in nine consecutive appearances on Sunday Night Football.
2. AARON DONALD, DT, L.A. Rams – The last time the Rams and Bucs met he didn't make the stat sheet: No sacks, no tackles, no pressures, hits, hurries or passes defended. Basically, no nothing in a career first.
3. RUSSELL WILSON, QB, Seattle. He leads the league with a 146.9 passer rating through two weeks and can eclipse Tom Brady’s NFL-record of 141.8 rating set in the first three weeks of 2007. He can also earn his 100th career regular-season victory in 10 seasons. Peyton Manning holds the league record with 105 regular-season wins in his first 10 seasons.
4. TRAVIS KELCE, TE, Kansas City. With a touchdown, he becomes the second tight end in league history to score on receptions in seven consecutive games. Only Antonio Gates, with nine, has more.
5. DERRICK HENRY, RB, Tennessee. In each of his past five games vs. an AFC South rival, he ran for 100 yards. In his last three vs. the division he’s run for at least 175 yards and two TDs.
TEN THINGS YOU PROBABLY SHOULD KNOW
1. Through two weeks, NFL passing numbers are at an all-time high -- with the league having a combined 95.6 passer rating and 67.2 completion percentage. Furthermore, 14 quarterbacks have passer ratings higher than 100, the most since the 1970 merger.
2. Baker Mayfield leads the league with a completion percentage of 81.6. Drew Brees holds the league record for the highest percentage (80.6) through the first three weeks of a season (2018).
3. Seattle's Tyler Lockett and the Rams’ Cooper Kupp are the only two receivers with at least one TD and 100 yards receiving in each of their first two games.
4. Dallas leads the league in most takeaways (6) and the takeaway/turnover margin (+4).
5. Pete Carroll has not lost to Minnesota since Nov. 2, 1997, when he was head coach of New England. He’s 8-1 vs. the Vikings, including the playoffs, winning his last seven. Mike Zimmer is 0-5 vs. the Seahawks.
6. Tampa Bay won its last 10 games, dating back to last season. You probably knew that. But did you know that the Bucs are the first team to win nine straight by scoring 30 or more points in all nine? Now you do.
7. Six rookie quarterbacks attempted at least one pass in the first two weeks, tying the league record set in 1971. Five of those rookies are expected to start this week.
8. San Francisco is off to a 2-0 start for the third time in 10 seasons. In each of the previous two (2012 and 2019) they advanced to the Super Bowl.
9. Have guns will travel: Teams that travel at least two time zones to play this season are 11-3.
10. The road team in the Tennessee-Indianapolis series has won each of the past five games.