The Sunday GPS: Brady and Rodgers shoot out the lights
GOLD JACKET FEATURE PRESENTATION
GREEN BAY @ NEW ENGLAND, 8:20 p.m. (EST)
The line: Patriots by 5-1/2
The weather: High of 53, mostly sunny
The story: Aaron Rodgers is right. There's no point making this about the G.O.A.T. Five Super Bowl victories = checkmate, and only one quarterback here … or anywhere … has them. Nevertheless, pre-game hype makes this a Clash of the Titans, with Rodgers in this corner and Tom Brady in that. Except it's not so much who's playing this game that makes the difference as it is where it's played … and that's Foxboro. Brady won his last nine starts there -- including a 43-40 defeat of Kansas City and the QB du jour, Patrick Mahomes -- while Rodgers hasn't won a road game this year. If that's not enough, Green Bay plays without starting safety HaHa Clinton-Dix, whom it just shipped off to Washington. Make that one more hole that Tom Terrific is sure to exploit. Yes, there should be a lot of points here, but Brady will have more of them.
Something to consider: Brady has eight touchdown passes and no interceptions in his last three games vs. Green Bay.
THREE OTHERS SUITABLE FOR HALL OF FRAMING
PITTSBURGH @ BALTIMORE, 1 p.m. (EST)
The line: Ravens by 3
The weather: Sunny, high of 59
The story: There's no better series anywhere in the NFL than this one. It's usually close. It's usually a defensive struggle. And it's always emotional. Pure and simple, these teams loathe each other. But this is about much more than a great series. This is about survival, and I'm not talking Steelers. The Ravens lost three of their last four and are in danger of ceding the division (again) to Pittsburgh. Worse, they're in danger of flushing their season. So they're desperate, and desperate teams at home are dangerous teams. They've already beaten Pittsburgh this year, and, yeah, I know what the Steelers' Sean Davis said: The Steelers are "not the same guys" that caved to Baltimore last month. Well, I'd hope not. But Flacco's not the same guy, either. He shaved his beard this week, hoping it wakes up a team that's better than its record. I say it does … mostly because I love the Ravens at home … and because this game is their season.
Something to consider: In Flacco's last six home games, he has 12 touchdown passes and one interception.
L.A. CHARGERS vs. SEATTLE, 4:05 p.m. (EST)
The line: Chargers by 1-/2
The weather: AM rain, high of 54
The story: The Chargers won their last four. The Seahawks won four of their last five. The Chargers' Philip Rivers is having what may be the best season of his career. The Seahawks' Russell Wilson is coming off the franchise's first perfect passer rating (158.3). Something has to give, people, and, just a hunch, but it may be the Seattle defense (formerly the Legion of Boom). The Chargers can beat you with Rivers, Melvin Gordon, Austin Ekeler, Keenan Allen, Tyrell Williams, Mike Williams, you name it, and tell me how the Seahawks have answers for all of them. If this game is going to be decided by anything, it's the Seattle pass rush. It must get to Rivers, and I say it doesn't. Rivers has been sacked 30 times the past two years, including 10 this season, and Seattle is a mediocre sack pack, tied for 19th. Put them together, and the Seahawks will need that 12th Man.
Something to consider: Gordon and Ekeler average 6.65 yards per touch, the only teammates to rank in the NFL's Top 10 in that category. Ekeler is second at 7.5, while Gordon is seventh at 6.2.
L.A. RAMS @ NEW ORLEANS, 4:25 p.m. (EST)
The line: Saints by 1
The weather: Dome
The story: I'm not sure why, but I love the Saints here. Maybe it's because I trust Drew Brees more than Jared Goff. Maybe it's because their tandem of Alvin Kamara-Mark Ingram is a push with Todd Gurley. Or maybe it's because the Saints are home, where they won 10 of their last 12 (including the playoffs). I just like the Saints' chances, and so do oddsmakers. Yeah, the Rams haven't lost this season, but they've had close calls -- escaping Green Bay last weekend and winning three of their last four by a total of eight points. And the Saints? They're on a six-game tear and seem to be getting stronger … and it's not only a white-hot Brees that gets your attention. It's a revitalized defense that looked so bad in the season opener but so much better now, allowing an average of 20 points in each of the past four starts. And that's significant. Because when the Saints allow 20 or fewer points under Sean Payton, they're 68-7.
Something to consider: Note to all Todd Gurley fantasy owners: The Saints allow the fewest rushing yards per game and the fewest rushing yards-per-carry.
OUR BEST BETS
CLARK JUDGE -- New Orleans (-1). Sooner or later, the Rams lose. I say it's sooner.
RON BORGES -- Green Bay (+5-1/2). Anytime I can get Aaron Rodgers and six points, I take it … even in Foxboro.
RICK GOSSELIN -- Houston (--2-1/2). The Texans are up and running, with Deshaun Watson on offense and J.J. Watt on defense. Now they've added Demaryius Thomas to the mix -- to play his former team. Texans all day in this one.
THE WEEKEND OMG
If Brady wins Sunday, it will be his 74th regular-season victory since 2007 -- or more than five teams (the L.A. Rams and Chargers, Cleveland, Jacksonville and Oakland) each earned home and away during that time.
SUNDAY'S PLAY LIST
L.A. CHARGERS' QB PHILIP RIVERS. His next start will be his 200th consecutive one, making him the 10th player since at least 1970 to reach that plateau.
KANSAS CITY QB PATRICK MAHOMES. With another 300-yard game, he ties Andrew Luck as the only quarterbacks to throw for 300 yards in eight consecutive contests within a single season. But that's not all. Mahomes has thrown four touchdown passes in five games this year. He can become just the third quarterback in NFL history to do it in six.
CAROLINA QB CAM NEWTON. With one more touchdown run, he hits five for the eighth consecutive season and become the first quarterback and just the seventh player ever to have at least five rushing TDs in eight straight years.
TAMPA BAY DE JASON PIERRE-PAUL. He has sacks in six consecutive games, tied for the longest streak in franchise history.
MINNESOTA WR ADAM THIELEN. He can become the first player ever to produce nine straight 100-yard receiving games. He's already the first to open a season with eight.
CLEVELAND DE MYLES GARRETT. With two sacks, he becomes just the fourth player since 1982 to produce at least 17 in his first 20 games. The others are Joey Bosa (19), Aldon Smith (18.5) and Clay Matthews (17).
HOUSTON DE J.J. WATT. He has eight sacks in his last six games.
DENVER LB VON MILLER. In his last four home games he has five-and-a-half sacks, six tackles for losses, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
KANSAS CITY WR TYREEK HILL. He has 10 touchdown catches in his last eight road games … and this road game is in Cleveland.
SEATTLE QB RUSSELL WILSON. He has 11 touchdown passes and no interceptions in his last five home games.
TEN THINGS YOU SHOULD REMEMBER
- With a win Sunday, Houston joins the New York Giants as the only teams since 1970 to win six straight games after starting the season 0-3.
- Since John Harbaugh took over in 2008, the Baltimore Ravens have the best record in November. They're 30-12. But there's more. They're an NFL-best 18-3 at home during this month, including 7-0 vs. AFC North opponents.
- Kansas City leads the league with 49 plays of 20 or more yards, with the Rams second at 47. Neither is surprising. But this is: Denver is third at 41.
- The Chiefs' Kareem Hunt hasn't fumbled in 478 consecutive touches, the longest streak in the NFL.
- The Vikings' defense leads the league in third-down percentage, with opponents converting only 25.6 percent of them.
- With 55 receptions, the Patriots' James White is on pace to set a franchise record for running backs. The current mark (77) is held by Tony Collins (1986). At this rate, White would finish with 110 catches, an NFL high for running backs.
- Tom Brady is 20-11 in Sunday Night football games, with 56 touchdown passes and 11 interceptions.
- Since 2014, the Patriots are 16-0 (including the playoffs) when Julian Edelman scores a touchdown.
- New Orleans converts an NFL-best 46.6 percent of its third downs. New England and Indianapolis are second at 44.0.
- The Saints lead the league in fewest sacks allowed with nine. Five teams are tied for second with 10 each.