Skip to main content

GOLD JACKET GAME OF THE WEEK

BUFFALO (3-1) @ KANSAS CITY (2-2), 8:20 p.m. (EDT)

The line: Chiefs by 2-1/2

The weather: Mostly cloudy, high of 82

The story: Good news, Bills’ fans: Your team is just the third since 1990 to produce shutouts in two of its first four games of a season. So what? So the other two, Baltimore (2000) and Washington (1991), not only advanced to the Super Bowl; they won it. The Bills are a league-leading +90 in point differential, with the NFL’s top-ranked defense, but critics ask: Whom did they beat? Answer: Jacoby Brissett, Taylor Heinecke and Davis Mills. This is Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, and it’s a rematch of last season’s AFC championship game. The Bills didn’t win that one. Oddsmakers say they won’t win this one, either.

Something to consider: This is the ninth time in 10 seasons where teams that participated in the AFC championship game the previous year met the following season. The winner in five of those eight previous games went on to the Super Bowl.

THREE OTHERS WORTHY OF HALL OF FRAMING

GREEN BAY (3-1) vs. CINCINNATI (3-1), 1 p.m. (EDT)

The line: Packers by 3

The weather: Partly cloudy, high of 86

The story: “Time for me to take over.” That’s what Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow said last week when the Bengals trailed Jacksonville by two touchdowns. Result: He did take over, leading Cincinnati to a 24-21 win. But that was Jacksonville. This is Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. It’s time for Burrow to take over again, and good luck vs. the defending league MVP. Since a season-opening loss. Rodgers has eight TD passes and no interceptions. More important, he hasn’t lost any of his last three starts.

Something to consider: Green Bay forced two turnovers in each of its last three games. Under coach Matt LaFleur, the Packers are 14-1 when producing two or more takeaways.

CLEVELAND (3-1) @ L.A. CHARGERS (3-1), 4:05 p.m. (EDT)

The line: Chargers by 2-1/2

The weather: Sunny, high of 80 (covered roof)

The story: The Browns are in a three-way tie for first in the AFC North, yet fans aren’t satisfied. That’s because quarterback Baker Mayfield is coming off what he termed “a piss-poor performance” vs. Minnesota, which is another way of saying he wasn’t very good. Yet the Browns won. So what’s the problem? I don’t know, either, except the outcry reached such a pitch this week that Mayfield’s wife stepped in to defend her husband. Another “piss-poor performance” won’t cut it here. The Chargers’ Justin Herbert is 7-1 over his last eight starts.

Something to consider: Mayfield is in the right place to rebut critics. In his last seven road starts, he has 13 TD passes and two interceptions.

SAN FRANCISCO (2-2) @ ARIZONA (4-0), 4:25 p.m. (EDT)

The line: Cards by 5-1/2

The weather: Sunny, high of 85 (retractable roof)

The story: This one’s all about the quarterback, and, no, I’m not talking about Arizona’s Kyler Murray. The 49ers start rookie Trey Lance, for whom they mortgaged the future, and now we find out why. Lance starts because Jimmy Garoppolo can’t, sidelined by – you got it – another injury. So consider this an audition for the permanent starting job. Lance looked positively ordinary when he relieved Jimmy G last week, but coach Kyle Shanahan said that’s because the offense was tailored to Garoppolo, not Lance. OK, this one isn’t. There’s more than victory at stake here. A position change could be, too.

Something to consider: The last five games in Arizona between these two have been decided by one score, including four by three points.

OUR BEST BETS

(All picks are made vs. the spread)

Read More

RON BORGES. Houston (+7-1/2). Pats' entire O-line on life support. By halftime, Mac Jones will be, too. (SEASON RECORD: 2-2).

RICK GOSSELIN – Dallas (--7). Giants won the very first game at Jerry World, with Eli Manning signing the locker-room wall. The Cowboys have long memories. (SEASON RECORD: 2-1-1).

CLARK JUDGE -- Dallas (--7). Troy Aikman is right: The Giants aren’t in the Cowboys’ class. (SEASON RECORD: 3-1).

THEY SAID IT

“I’m excited but I’m not going to make it bigger than what it is.” – San Francisco rookie quarterback Trey Lance on his first NFL start.

STAT OF THE WEEK

The Cardinals have had three previous 4-0 starts. In two of them, they missed the playoffs – including one season where they finished 5-11. In the third, they lost in the divisional round.

FIVE GUYS TO WATCH

1. PATRICK MAHOMES, QB, Kansas City. With three TD passes, he joins Tom Brady and Steve Young as the only quarterbacks to throw at least three in each of their first five games of a season.

2. TREVON DIGGS, CB, Dallas. He leads the league with five interceptions and has at least one in each of the first four games.

3. DERRICK HENRY, RB, Tennessee. He can become the first running back in league history with 150 or more yards rushing in four consecutive road games.

4. ZACH WILSON, QB, N.Y. Jets. He can become the first rookie quarterback ever to win a game in London.

5. KIRK COUSINS, QB, Minnesota. In seven career starts vs. Detroit, he has 18 TD passes, one interception and a 124.6 rating.

TEN THINGS YOU PROBABLY SHOULD KNOW

1. There have been 15 games this season decided in the last minute of regulation or in overtime, the most through four weeks since the 1970 merger.

2. Three of Arizona’s four wins have been on the road, and all have been by 12 or more points.

3. There is no more home-field advantage. Road teams this year are 33-31, continuing a trend that began in 2019. Over the last three seasons, road teams are 284-290-2.

4. The Cards’ Kyler Murray leads all quarterbacks with 16 completions of 25 or more yards.

5. The Chargers’ defense allowed more than 17 points only once this season and produced five takeaways the past two weeks.

6. Jared Goff is 0-11 without Sean McVay.

7. The Saints’ Jameis Winston has a passer rating of 110 or better in three of his four starts this season.

8. The Titans’ Ryan Tannehill is 9-2 vs. the AFC South since taking over as the team’s starter in 2019.

9. In his last 11 games vs. the AFC, Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers has 29 TDs and three interceptions. The Packers are 9-2 in those contests.

10. Denver has allowed the fewest second-half points (18) this season. Minnesota (23) is second.