GOLD JACKET GAME OF THE WEEK
GREEN BAY @ KANSAS CITY, 8:20 p.m. (EDT)
The line: Packers by 5
The weather: Sunny, high of 60
The story: So now we know what we should’ve known already: Patrick Mahomes won’t play this game. The Chiefs’ quarterback was supposed to be sidelined 3-6 weeks when he was hurt last week but returned to practice this week on a “limited” basis. I don’t know exactly what that means, either, but oddsmakers weren’t buying. That’s why they made the Packers a favorite at Arrowhead. So it’s Matt Moore vs. Aaron Rodgers, which means the Chiefs better look as good on defense vs. Aaron Rodgers as they did vs. Joe Flacco … and, no, I don’t like their chances.
Something to consider: Dating back to last season, the Chiefs lost three of their last four home games.
THREE OTHERS WORTHY OF HALL OF FRAMING
PHILADELPHIA @ BUFFALO, 1 p.m. (EDT)
The line: Bills by 1-1/2
The weather: Rain, wind, high of 62
The story: The Eagles are in free fall, with players and former players (Orlando Scandrick, please step forward) turning on each. But never fear: Defensive back Malcolm Jenkins is here to remind us that “the guys in this locker room trust each other.” Terrific. Aaron Boone trusted the Yankees, too, and look what happened. Nope, this comes down to something more than trusting each other. It comes down to Carson Wentz, et. al., moving the chains, and color me pessimistic. Reason: If they had trouble with Dallas … and they did ... how do they solve Buffalo’s defense? I’d play the under here because Josh Allen isn’t exactly Tom Brady, which means Buffalo wins another low-scoring and close game, and Eagles’ fans step out on the ledge.
The story: Wentz has a touchdown pass in his last 10 games, tied for the longest active streak in the NFL.
OAKLAND @ HOUSTON, 1 p.m. (EDT)
The line: Texans by 6-1/2
The weather: Sunny, high of 79 (retractable roof)
The story: Talk about the ultimate insult. In the week prior to this game, the Raiders deal their underwhelming former first-round draft pick Gareon Conley … but they trade him to the team they’re about to confront. Which tells you how much the Raiders think Conley can help Houston. It also tells you how desperate the Texans are to improve a secondary that’s been under siege.
Something to consider: The Raiders’ tight ends are responsible for 47 percent of the team’s receiving yards and 44 percent of its receptions.
ARIZONA @ NEW ORLEANS, 1 p.m. (EDT)
The line: Saints by 12
The weather: Dome
The story: The Saints say they won't name a starting quarterback until Sunday, but reports have Drew Brees returning to the job ... and that's great. Just one question: Why? The Saints are 5-0 with sub Teddy Bridgewater, and they have a bye next week. So why hurry Brees back when there’s no reason? Someone? Anyone? Maybe I could see it if this were Green Bay … or New England … or San Francisco. But it’s not, and, yeah, I know, the Cards are on a three-week tear. But they’re not going to win this one, with or without Brees on the other side of the football.
Something to consider: Arizona ranks first in the league with only four turnovers. New Orleans is second with five. The Cards haven’t committed a giveaway in their last three games, and the Saints haven’t committed one in their last two.
OUR BEST BETS
(Picks are made vs. the spread)
RON BORGES – Chicago (--3-1/2). Chicago’s D hasn’t looked as stout as I expected for a while now, but the Chargers seem like the antidote with 60 percent of its offensive line in street clothes.
CLARK JUDGE – L.A. Rams (--11-1/2). Bengals prove their as bad in another continent as they are here.
RICK GOSSELIN – Detroit (--6-1/2). The Lions are the best 2-3-1 team in the league. I like Matthew Stafford against a terrible defense.
THE WEEKEND OMG
When Tom Brady and Julian Edelman are together in the New England lineup, the Patriots are 41-0 vs. the AFC in regular-season home games.
FIVE GUYS TO WATCH
NEW ENGLAND COACH BILL BELICHICK. His next win is the 300th of his career, and how appropriate that it could come at the expense of the Browns. His first win was with Cleveland over … who else? … the Patriots, 20-0 in Foxboro in 1991.
OAKLAND QB DEREK CARR. He has 13 touchdown passes, one interception and a 118.7 rating in his past five starts vs. the NFC South.
SEATTLE QB RUSSELL WILSON. Dating back to 2018, Russell Wilson has 16 touchdown passes and no interceptions in his last seven road starts. His streak of eight consecutive road games with a passer rating of 110 or higher is the highest in NFL history.
CLEVELAND DE MYLES GARRETT. With a pair of sacks Sunday, he becomes the first player since Robert Mathis in 2013 and the eighth since 1982 to produce two or more in four of his team’s first seven games.
BUFFALO QB JOSH ALLEN. He has seven rushing TDs in his last eight home starts and leads all quarterbacks with 11 rushing TD dating back to 2018.
TEN THINGS YOU MIGHT WANT TO REMEMBER
1. There has been a 300-yard passing performance every 1.7 games this year.
2. New England is the second team in NFL history (the 1942 Bears were the first) to shut out an opponent on the road by 30 or more points twice in one season
3. The Patriots’ plus-175 point differential is the largest through seven games in the Super Bowl era.
4. San Francisco on Sunday can become the sixth team since 1970 to allow a net of 200 or fewer yards in four consecutive games.
5. Arizona’s Chandler Jones and Terrell Suggs have combined for 13-1/2 sacks, 8 strip sacks and 14 quarterback hits this season.
6. Arizona leads the league with 15 forced fumbles. The Cards have forced multiple fumbles in five games and three or more in three.
7. The Raiders will have to earn their fourth-straight game with 150 or more yards rushing. Houston ranks third vs. the run.
8. The 49ers average 39 rushing attempts per game, most in the NFL.
9. San Francisco has allowed 10 points the past three weeks, the fewest in team history since Weeks 14-16 in 1987. The 49ers also average 172.7 yards rushing per game, second only to Baltimore.
10. The L.A. Chargers allow opponents to complete a league-high 74.6 percent of their passes.
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