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Game of the week
Las Vegas at LA Chargers
Big Monday game between the 3-0 Raiders (plus-3 1/2) and 2-1 Chargers. Las Vegas has an average of the best 471 yards in the league, aided by two overtime wins. But we’re going with Bolt’s quarterback Justin Herbert throwing a late touchdown.
Chargers 27, Raiders 23
End of the week
Tampa Bay in New England
During Tom Brady’s time in New England, the number of times the Patriots were at least a seven-point underdog was: None. The Buccaneers are a seven-point favorite and it’s easy to bet on Brady’s mentality. He wants to dismantle his old team.
Buccaneers 42, Patriots 20
Anger of the week
Detroit in Chicago
The Bears put offensive football back in Cleveland’s loss last week, finishing with 47 yards (the second-lowest in the team’s history since 1940). The scoreless Lions (plus three) are now better and coach Dan Campbell takes his first win.
Lions 19, Bears 7
All around the NFC: Tom Brady returns to New England at the height of his all-time record
Brady nears record. Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady will face New England for the first time since leaving the Patriots in March 2020. Brady needs 68 passes to become the NFL’s all-time leader, a record currently held by Drew Brees (80,358). The top five are Brees, Brady (80,291), Peyton Manning (71,940), Brett Favre (71,838) and Philip Rivers (63,440). A win would also place Brady with Brees, Manning and Favre as the only quarterbacks to beat all 32 teams. Additionally, on the Tampa Bay milestone front, Rob Gronkowski needs 16 yards to climb to fifth by making a tight finish (currently at 8,558).
Dallas “D” is a little better. Dallas’ new defensive coordinator, Dan Quinn, has already made a big impact on the Cowboys’ defense… sort of. They lead the league with eight takeaways and are in first place with a plus-five margin in sales. The Cowboys had 23 takeaways in 16 games last year. But they go into Sunday’s home game against undefeated Carolina who ranks 26th in most yards allowed (402.0) and second-worst pass defense (331.7). Takeaways, however, cover up a lot of warts.
Surprising Cardinals. Is Arizona real? The Cardinals are 3-0, outperforming their opponents 103–65, including 69–27 in road wins over Tennessee and Jacksonville. They don’t rush well (3.9 yard average), but six players have at least 10 catches, and quarterback Kyler Murray has a passer rating of 113.4 (four interceptions, however). The next three games will help call the Cardinals a contender or also-runner – at the Rams (Matthew Stafford plays out the lights), vs. San Francisco (who is blocking Nick Bosa?) and at Cleveland (who is blocking Myles Garrett?).
Around the AFC: Time to Win for Kansas City in Philadelphia? Yes.
Must-win for Chiefs? Kansas City has lost two consecutive games for the third time in the starting career of quarterback Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs play in awful Philadelphia, which makes it a must-win as 1-3 could mean three games behind the Broncos or Las Vegas. Mahomes has a 39-10 starting record and a win will allow him to join Ken Stabler as the only Super Bowl-era quarterbacks to win 40 of their first 50 career starts. Stabler was 40-9-1. In third place are Tom Brady and Danny White (38-12), followed by Dan Marino and Jim McMahon (37-13).
Steelers looking. Pittsburgh, so impressive in its Week 1 win at Buffalo, has lost home games to Las Vegas and Cincinnati. His running game is broken (last in yards per game and per carry at 53.0 and 3.18), and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is third in the league with 130 passes. It’s so bad that Bengal receiver Tyler Boyd said last week that the Steelers “gave up”. Coach Mike Tomlin didn’t like that. “I don’t care what Tyler Boyd thinks about what happened during the match,” Tomlin said. Pittsburgh plays in Green Bay on Sunday.
Month of the bags. Last year, no NFL player achieved 16 sacks (one per game); Pittsburgh’s TJ Watt was first with 15. But in three games, 16 players average at least one sack per game, led by Cleveland’s Myles Garrett (5 1/2). The Broncos’ Von Miller is tied for fourth (four sacks). Garrett had 4 1/2 sacks in last week’s win over lowly Chicago. Yes, the league has talented edge rushers, but what the early games show is the lack of offensive line depth.
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