Game of the week
Kansas City in Las Vegas
The Chiefs are a seven-point favorite, even though the Raiders won 40-32 in Kansas City (week 5). The Chiefs’ defense has allowed less than 18 points in three of the last four games. One thing these AFC West rivals have in common: they both blew up the Broncos (with a combined 52 points).
Chiefs 34, Raiders 28
Tennessee in Baltimore
What happened to the Ravens’ transgression? Baltimore ranks 22nd in yards, 31st in passing and 12th in scoring after hurling opponents all year round. The Ravens are a 6 1/2 points favorite, but Derrick Henry is fresh after playing 10 days ago and running to 137 yards in the win.
Titans 20, Ravens 19
Upset from the week
LA Rams in Tampa Bay
The most dominant defensive player in the league (Ram’s defensive tackle Aaron Donald) against the most successful quarterback in the league (Tom Brady) on Monday. Pass rush / protection will be the deciding factor – Tampa Bay (33) and the Rams (32) are down in second and third place respectively.
Rams 27, Buccaneers 21
Around the NFC: Rookie receiver Justin Jefferson makes an immediate impression for Minnesota
Jefferson leads the way. When Minnesota receiver Stefon Diggs traded to Buffalo, the return included the Bills’ first round (No. 22). The Vikings didn’t mess around, writing down LSU’s Justin Jefferson to replace Diggs and team with Adam Thielen (tied for lead in the league with nine touchdown catches). Jefferson leads the NFL with an average of 18.1 yards (minimum 40 catches) and has 42 receptions for 762 yards and three touchdowns. Jefferson has three games of at least 135 meters. The Vikings have won three in a row to reboot their season and have their next three at home (Dallas, Carolina and Jacksonville – combined record of 6-24).
Eagles still lead the division. Philadelphia remains atop the NFC East with a 3-5-1 record, despite having given up 35 sacks, has the same number of touchdowns as interceptions (12) and allows 14 hasty touchdowns. The Eagles play in Cleveland. “We are all frustrated,” said coach Doug Pederson. “We know we are so much better (than last week’s loss to the Giants) and we just got it done this week. Everything is still right in front of us and we have a great opportunity on Sunday. “
Bears are ready. Chicago used mirrors and its defenses to build a 5-1 record. But reality has arrived for the Bears, who lost four straights and failed to get a lift from coach Matt Nagy who handed over the play-calling duties to offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. Last Monday, the Bears managed just 149 yards offense in their loss to a Minnesota team that came in and allowed 413 yards per game. As the season continues to fall apart, it’s time to move away from general manager Ryan Pace, who is on his second coach, and re-enter the quarterback market.
All around the AFC: Unlikely leader in interceptions, JC Jackson, is nearing the NFL record
Unlikely INT leader. A New England cornerback has interceptions in five consecutive games and it is not reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore. No, JC Jackson is the first player to have a five-game streak since Reggie Nelson in 2015, and he can match the league record with an interception Sunday in Houston (it’s been done seven times and not since 2003). Jackson leads the league with six interceptions and is on track to become the first double-digit interceptor since Chargers’ Antonio Cromartie in 2007. The Patriots have won two in a row after losing four in a row.
Herbert’s efforts were wasted. The Chargers’ quarterback Justin Herbert has 19 touchdown passes, but is 1-7 as the starter because the defense cannot stop anyone. Los Angeles has allowed 38, 30, 29, 31, 31 and 29 points in the last six games (five losses). This has to be the day when the Chargers get it right or it gets really bad. After their farewell week, the winless New York Jets arrive, who stay with old friend Joe Flacco due to the shoulder injury of Sam Darnold.
Top-heavy conference. The AFC could have as many as eight teams after Sunday with at least seven wins. There is no middle class in the conference this year – nine teams are 6-3 or better and five teams have two or fewer wins. On Sunday it will be half clear for the six 6-3 teams – Indianapolis (vs. Green Bay), Las Vegas (vs. Kansas City), Miami (in the Broncos), Baltimore / Tennessee (playing against each other) and Cleveland (vs. Philadelphia). The Browns and Titans are not currently in the playoff position. Meanwhile, in the NFC, only six teams have a winning record.