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Game Capsules: Breaking Down Monday Night

Erik Siegrist

Erik Siegrist is an FSWA award-winning columnist who covers all four major North American sports (that means the NHL, not NASCAR) and whose beat extends back to the days when the Nationals were the Expos and the Thunder were the Sonics. He was the inaugural champion of Rotowire's Staff Keeper baseball league. His work has also appeared at Baseball Prospectus.

Minnesota (+2.5) at Detroit, 41.5 o/u – Thursday, 12:30 p.m. EST

Comments: It's a weird thing to contemplate, but Sam Bradford might be the most consistent QB in the NFL. Now, that's not to say he's been good, exactly, but his 12:2 TD:INT features no games with zero TDs, or more than two, while he's only thrown for less than 200 yards twice and more than 300 yards once. His YPA tells the same story: two games of 9.0 or higher, one less than 6.0, the rest in the 6s and 7s. He's been rock steady, but that high floor/low ceiling approach makes games like this one almost feel like missed opportunities. The Lions are bottom of the league in QB rating against (108.5), but when Bradford faced them at home in Week 9, all he managed was a single TD and 273 yards despite a season-high 40 attempts. With Stefon Diggs hobbled by a knee injury and not practicing Wednesday, it doesn't seem likely that he'll suddenly light it up. ... Matthew Stafford also had poor numbers in Week 9, but that's a little more understandable as the Vikings are second in QB rating against (73.4). Stafford did lead Detroit to another comeback win in that one, though, driving barely into field-goal range in the final 23 seconds of regulation before firing a strike to Golden Tate to win it in overtime. It was one of six times this season he led game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime. (Just to save you from checking, yes, the Lions are 6-4). That's an incredible run, but also an unsustainable one. Sooner or later, they're going to fall behind and not be able to get back up. ... DeAndre Levy (knee) will probably miss at least one more game, but Theo Riddick (ankle) and Ezekiel Ansah (ankle) should play. Diggs is the only major name on offense listed on the injury report for the Vikings, but Eric Kendricks (hip), Harrison Smith (ankle) and Terence Newman (neck) are banged up on the defensive side of the ball, with Newman the least likely to be in the lineup Thursday.


Predictions: Jerick McKinnon leads the Minnesota backfield with 70 yards and a score. Bradford throws for 240 yards and a TD to Cordarrelle Patterson. Riddick picks up 50 combined yards. Stafford throws for 280 yards and touchdowns to Tate and Eric Ebron, but his luck runs out when he serves up a pick-six to Trae Waynes. Vikings, 24-20


Washington (+7) at Dallas, 52 o/u – Thursday, 4:30 p.m. EST

Comments: The Cowboys' offensive line has (rightly) gotten a ton of attention this season, but that could just be bulletin board material for a Washington line that might feel a little slighted and overlooked, despite some impressive performances of its own. Washington’s given Kirk Cousins all the time in the pocket he could possibly ask for – Derek Carr and Eli Manning are the only QBs who have started all 10 games and been sacked fewer times than Cousins' 14 – but last week's destruction of the Packers' front seven that led to Rob Kelley's three-TD explosion might have been the coming-out party as a run blocking unit. They haven't missed a beat with left tackle Trent Williams suspended, and Dallas' ragtag defensive line wouldn't seem to present much of a challenge either. If this game is won in the trenches, Washington's got a puncher's chance of being the team doing the bullying. ... Dak Prescott just keeps getting better. Usually, rookie quarterbacks hit a wall as the opposition gets a handle on their tendencies and weaknesses, but Prescott has an eye-popping 13:2 TD:INT over his last five games (he had a 4:0 TD:INT in his first five), and his only two 300-yard games on the season have come in the last two weeks. Teams can't afford to scheme for the Cowboys' passing game too heavily with the threat of Ezekiel Elliott looming over them, and Prescott has taken full advantage. Washington's defense has trouble slowing down even mediocre running games, ranking 31st in YPC allowed (4.6), which makes it vulnerable to exactly the same script the Cowboys have been running on everyone: grind 'em down with Elliott and that ridiculous O-line, then let Dak pick the bones. ... Dez Bryant (back) remains listed as questionable on the injury report, but with three TDs in the last two games he should be good to go. DeSean Jackson (shoulder) is also listed as questionable for Washington, but was a full participant in practice Wednesday.


Predictions: Kelley bangs out 80 yards and a score. Cousins throws for 310 yards and TDs to Pierre Garcon and Jordan Reed, with Jackson topping 100 yards. Elliott has plenty to be thankful for, running for 140 yards and two touchdowns. Prescott throws for 260 yards and TDs to Bryant and Gavin Escobar, and runs in a third score. Cowboys, 35-27


Pittsburgh at Indianapolis (+8), 48 o/u – Thursday, 8:30 p.m. EST

Comments: There's nothing like facing the Browns to get you off the schneid, even if you have to face them in gale-force winds. Last week's gusty affair held Ben Roethlisberger to one of his worst performances ever, but that won't be an issue under the dome in Indy. The Colts are 29th in QB rating against (102.5) and last in INTs (three, tied with the Jags) and passing yards allowed per game (284.5), which is a fairly lethal combination. Their secondary also comes into this one in rough shape, with Vontae Davis (ankle) questionable and starting safety Clayton Geathers (concussion) out. Pittsburgh's turned in some clunkers on the road this season, but this doesn't look like it will be one. ... The Colts can't even look to Andrew Luck to keep pace with Big Ben's aerial assault. Luck's out with a concussion, leaving the offense in the hands of backup Scott Tolzien. Tolzien's thrown only 91 passes in his NFL career, with 90 coming in 2013, and his 1:5 career TD:INT wouldn't seem to offer much hope that he'll be a pleasant surprise. The Steelers' secondary is mostly mediocre, but they could look like the Seahawks of a couple years ago in this one. ... As if their other injuries weren't enough, Donte Moncrief showed up on the injury report as questionable with a hamstring issue. Pittsburgh heads into the game relatively healthy.


Predictions: Le'Veon Bell racks up 130 combined yards and two scores, one on the ground and one through the air. Roethlisberger throws for 370 yards and three more TDs, two to Antonio Brown and one to Ladarius Green, with Brown hauling in 140 yards. Frank Gore manages just 40 yards. Tolzien is brutal, throwing for 160 yards and a touchdown to T.Y. Hilton but getting picked off three times. Steelers, 38-7


Tennessee at Chicago (+4.5), 42 o/u – Sunday, 1 p.m. EST

Comments: The Titans' chronic inability to beat the Colts could end up costing them a division crown, but against everyone else they increasingly look like the class of the AFC South. DeMarco Murray has scored in six straight games, while Marcus Mariota has thrown multiple TD passes in seven straight, and that's an awful lot of offense for the opposition to overcome. The Bears' defense isn't terrible though, particularly at home, and may be up to the challenge. In their last three games at Soldier Field, Chicago's allowed just 13.7 points and 279.3 yards per game, numbers which would put them at the top of the league if they'd managed them over the full schedule. ... Of course, they need to score points too, and that could be a problem. The team isn't willing to declare Jay Cutler out for the season yet, but if the scuttlebutt about a torn labrum in his shoulder is true, they're only kidding themselves. That leaves Matt Barkley, he of the career 0:6 TD:INT in five NFL games, as their starting QB, with 2014 sixth round pick David Fales (who's never seen a snap in a regular season game) as the backup. The Titans already sat seventh in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game (92.1), but now have no reason not to stack the box against Jordan Howard and dare Barkley to beat them. ... Eddie Royal's toe injury kept him out of practice this week, while Zach Miller landed on IR with a foot injury, leaving the Bears with no veteran targets to try and help out Barkley. Tennessee heads into this one pretty healthy.

Predictions: Murray picks up 130 yards and a TD, as Chicago's defense runs out of gas in the second half. Mariota throws for 250 yards and touchdowns to Rishard Matthews and Delanie Walker. Howard manages 50 yards and a score through sheer will, while Barkley throws for 230 yards and a TD to Marquess Wilson. Titans, 21-17


Jacksonville (+7.5) at Buffalo, 45 o/u – Sunday, 1 p.m. EST

Comments: Blake Bortles hasn't been able to duplicate last year's garbage time magic, but he has thrown multiple TD passes in four straight games (even if his YPA hasn't topped 6.2 over that stretch), so he's got that going for him. That mini-streak of adequate production could come to a screeching halt Sunday, however. The Bills have only allowed 11 passing TDs this season, tied for fifth in the league, and they're tied for the NFL lead in sacks at 31. Bortles isn't exactly known for his calm composure under pressure, so while that streak might come to an end, his streak of three straight games with at least one pick should get extended. If you're looking for some secondary help in an IDP league, you could do worse than grabbing a random Buffalo defensive back. ... While their defense is probably looking forward to this one, the Bills' offense is probably too busy introducing themselves to one another to worry about what the Jags might do to stop them. LeSean McCoy will try to play with a dislocated thumb, but his main backup, Mike Gillislie (hamstring) is out, so rookie Jonathan Williams would be next in line if Shady can't handle a full workload. Robert Woods (knee) is also out, but Sammy Watkins (foot) might see his first action since Week 2, although it's hard to imagine him making much of an impact. Percy Harvin played 46 snaps last week as he tries to get used to footballing again, but he's now battling an illness and is questionable. Oh, and Charles Clay's still dealing with a knee injury and hasn't been able to crack 30 yards in any of the last four games. Tyrod Taylor will probably have to rely on his legs once again to keep the offense moving. He's got just a 2:2 TD:INT over that four-game stretch, but has scored three rushing touchdowns. ... Julius Thomas (back) is out for the Jags, while T.J. Yeldon, who's been relegated to backup duty behind Chris Ivory anyway, is battling an ankle sprain.

Predictions: Ivory picks up 80 combined yards and scores. Bortles throws for 220 yards and a TD to Allen Robinson, but gets intercepted three times including a pick-six by Stephon Gilmore, who runs it all the way to Stars Hollow. McCoy guts it out and rushes for 60 yards and a touchdown. Taylor throws for 200 yards and a TD to Marquise Goodwin while running for 50 yards and a score. Bills, 27-14


Cincinnati (+4) at Baltimore, 40.5 o/u – Sunday, 1 p.m. EST

Comments: The Bengals just can't seem to catch a break – or rather, they catch too many of the bad kind. Last season, it was Andy Dalton going down late that ruined a promising campaign. This year, A.J. Green (hamstring) and Giovani Bernard (knee) both went down with significant injuries in Week 11, and while Green might be able to return before the year is out, Bernard wound up on IR. That leaves Dalton with very few weapons headed into a crucial divisional matchup against a Ravens defense stinging from getting man-handled in Dallas, but which still sits first in rushing yards allowed per game (76.0), YPC allowed (3.4) and rushing TDs allowed (four). If Baltimore's front seven takes Jeremy Hill out of the equation as well, it's suddenly tough to see where the points will be coming from for Cinci. ... Don't look now, but the Ravens might have a full-fledged timeshare going in their backfield. Since the team's bye in Week 8, Terrance West has been on the field for 86 snaps to Kenneth Dixon's 67, and while West has gotten more carries (44 to 21) he's barely outgained the rookie on the ground (128 yards to Dixon's 91) while Dixon has seen a few more targets. The Bengals have been vulnerable against the run, sitting 28th in rushing yards allowed per game (123.4) and 27th in YPC allowed (4.5), so whoever gets the carries could be in line for a big day, especially if Baltimore gets staked to an early lead. That would seem to lean in West's favor, but much as anyone who's ever tried to time the market with Hill and Bernard knows, guessing which member of the committee benefits from any particular matchup can be a mug's game. ... The Ravens' performance on defense remains remarkable considering they can't keep everyone healthy. Jimmy Smith (back) will probably miss another game, while Elvis Dumervil (foot) and Timmy Jernigan (shoulder) are playing at less than 100 percent. Cinci doesn't have any big defensive names on the injury report (thank heaven for small mercies, Bengals fans), but they are banged up at safety.

Predictions: Hill bashes out 60 yards. Dalton throws for 240 yards and TDs to Tyler Boyd and Rex Burkhead. West gains 70 yards and a touchdown, while Dixon also racks up 70 combined yards and his first NFL score. Joe Flacco throws for 260 yards and a TD to Steve Smith. Ravens, 24-17


Arizona (+4) at Atlanta, 50.5 o/u – Sunday, 1 p.m. EST

Comments: There's been a lot of talk lately about Carson Palmer's "decline," but let's put things in perspective. Over his four seasons with the Cardinals, he's posted YPAs of 7.5, 7.3, 8.7 and 7.2. Which one's the outlier? Palmer isn't so much declining as falling back to earth after a season in which everything went right for the Arizona passing game, and the fact that he had three straight games with 340 or more yards prior to last week's relatively ugly numbers on the road against a tough Minnesota defense should have earned him a little credit. This week should present no such challenges for the 36-year-old. The Falcons rank 27th in QB rating against (100.9), dead last in passing yards allowed per game (283.0), and tied for second-worst in TD passes allowed (23). ... The Cardinals' pass defense, meanwhile, is nearly the diametric opposite of their opponents, sitting second in QB rating against (73.5), first in passing yards allowed per game (190.2), and first in passing TDs allowed (seven). Will it matter to Matty Ice? Mmm, maybe. Matt Ryan has only faced one comparable secondary this season in the Broncos, and got held to one of his worst performances of the year, managing just 267 yards and a single TD. That game was on the road though, and he still put up a 9.5 YPA. Arizona also doesn't have the depth at cornerback that Denver does. While Patrick Peterson can shut down the best of them (and will have to Sunday), the rest of the Cards' corners don't stack up, and the team defense grades out fairly poorly against No. 2 and lower WRs by DVOA. Julio Jones might have his hands full trying to get open, but Mohamed Sanu and big-play threat Taylor Gabriel might have their hands full from all the passes they'll be catching. ... Desmond Trufant (shoulder) is the biggest name on the injury report for the Falcons and will be a game-time decision. Michael Floyd (hamstring) could also miss the game for the Cardinals, but Tyrann Mathieu (shoulder) seems ready to return.

Predictions: David Johnson does his thing, collecting 120 combined yards and a touchdown. Palmer throws for 320 yards and three TDs, two to Larry Fitzgerald and one to John Brown, with Brown topping 100 yards. Tevin Coleman returns with 60 yards and a score, while Devonta Freeman adds 50 yards. Ryan throws for 290 yards and touchdowns to Jones and Gabriel. Cardinals, 34-24


N.Y. Giants at Cleveland (+7), 44 o/u – Sunday, 1 p.m. EST

Comments: This should be a cakewalk for the Giants, but they're shown a remarkable ability to play down to the level of their competition this season. During their current five-game winning streak, they've won by an average of 4.6 points and never by more than a touchdown, despite that fact that they didn't play a team with a winning record. The Browns are awful on both sides of the ball though, ranking 31st in points allowed per game (29.5) and 30th in points scored per game (16.7), so this could end up being a case of the proverbial resistable force meeting the movable object. ... Cody Kessler's out again with another concussion, but Josh McCown is back and will take over at QB for Cleveland. That's great news for Gary Barnidge, if nobody else. He caught a TD pass for McCown last week, and his huge 2015 still looms as a reminder of their chemistry. The Giants have also given up the eighth-most yards to tight ends this season and rank 24th in DVOA against the position, so expect the Browns to lean heavily on that matchup to try and produce some semblance of an offense. ... Jason Pierre-Paul is dealing with a knee issue but should play. Aside from Kessler, Cleveland reports no key injuries.

Predictions: Rashad Jennings piles up 100 yards and a touchdown. Eli Manning throws for 220 yards and a TD to Odell Beckham. Duke Johnson leads the Browns' backfield with 60 combined yards, but Isaiah Crowell finds his way into the end zone. McCown throws for 240 yards and a score to Barnidge, and the crowd goes nuts when Cody Parkey boots the winner in overtime. Browns, 20-17


Los Angeles (+7) at New Orleans, 45.5 o/u – Sunday, 1 p.m. EST

Comments: The Jared Goff era got off to a resounding thud last week, but at this point it's doubtful anyone expected much from him. Jeff Fisher's play-calling is stifling so his ceiling would be limited even if he turns out to be the next (wait, who was the last good QB to play in Los Angeles? Jim Everett?), but Goff at least avoided committing any turnovers against Miami, which must count for something. We should get a little better idea of what the kid is capable of Sunday though. The Saints' defense isn't historically awful this year, but they still sit 29th in YPA allowed (7.9), 31st in passing yards allowed per game (280.7) and 30th in points allowed per game (28.6), so if Fisher lets Goff stretch his wings he might surprise. ... It's a testament to how dangerous Drew Brees is at home that he's averaged 284 yards and two TDs over the last two games in the Superdome despite facing two of the toughest pass defenses in the league in the Broncos and Seahawks. The Rams aren't quite as stingy, but they are sixth in passing yards allowed (215.7) and rank just outside the top 10 in other key categories. Brees will also have more incentive to chuck it up given the state of his backfield, though. Mark Ingram is officially questionable with a concussion but seems a long shot to play, while rookie Daniel Lasco (hamstring) is out and Travaris Cadet (toe) didn't play last week. That means the thoroughly pedestrian Tim Hightower will get most of the carries against a Rams defense that's been a bit softer against the run this year than its reputation would suggest, but has still only given up six rushing TDs all season. ... Todd Gurley scored last week for the first time since Week 5, and might be about to wake up. The Saints are actually 10th in YPC allowed (3.9), but make up for it in quality and are tied for third-worst with 13 rushing TDs allowed. If he can get going, it would take a lot of pressure off Goff to be the golden boy savior of the franchise.

Predictions: Gurley rumbles for 90 yards and a touchdown. Goff throws for 210 yards and touchdowns to Tavon Austin and Lance Kendricks. Hightower picks up 80 combined yards and a TD, while Brees throws for 320 yards and three touchdowns, two to Michael Thomas and one to Willie Snead. Saints, 31-21


San Francisco (+7.5) at Miami, 44.5 o/u – Sunday, 1 p.m. EST

Comments: The Browns being winless gets most of the attention, but let's all take a moment to appreciate how bad the Niners have been in losing nine straight. They've hung kinda tough with great teams, and been beaten up by mediocre ones. They've lost blowouts and nail biters. They've been almost incomprehensibly bad against the run all year, but somehow held David Johnson to 55 rushing yards. Basically, if there's a way to lose a game, San Fran's done it. Colin Kaepernick has certainly done his share to keep that losing streak alive too. He's failed to top 210 yards or a 60 percent completion rate in four of his five starts, with only the Saints game standing out as a glaring exception. A Dolphins defense that sits eighth in QB rating against (84.5) isn't likely to give him much room for improvement. ... Jay Ajayi isn't reeling off 200-yard games any more, but against the Niners you can't rule anything out. Over his last three games, Ajayi's averaging 89 rushing yards a game and a 4.5 YPC, which seems a little more sustainable, but it's only slightly more than half what San Francisco gives up on the ground (179.5 yards a game). The Dolphins are also a little banged up at wideout, with Jarvis Landry (shoulder) and Kenny Still (calf) both questionable, so they've got every reason to lean a little more on their running game this week. ... Torrey Smith (shoulder) missed the Patriots' game and is questionable again for the 49ers, but he's been basically a non-factor the last few weeks anyway.

Predictions: Carlos Hyde busts out for 110 yards and two touchdowns. Kaepernick runs for 40 yards and a TD of his own, but only manages 160 yards through the air. Ajayi is a monster, chewing up 160 yards and two touchdowns. Ryan Tannehill throws for 260 yards and two scores, both to Devante Parker, who also hauls in 120 yards. Dolphins, 31-24


San Diego at Houston (+1.5), 46.5 o/u – Sunday, 1 p.m. EST

Comments: Barring a miracle finish, the Chargers are out of the playoff race at the point at 4-6. Nine wins might squeak them into a wild card spot, but it also might leave them stuck in fourth in their own division. That makes every remaining game a must-win for them, not that you'd know it from the way Philip Rivers gift-wrapped a victory for Miami last week. The Texans' defense may not give him much chance at redemption, either. They sit in the top 10 against the pass despite a lack of impact plays (tied for fifth-worst in sacks, tied for fourth-worst in INTs), and have given up an average of 18.2 points a game at home. ... Breaking news, must credit: Brock Osweiler is still bad. To be fair, he and DeAndre Hopkins did get robbed of a touchdown last week by some bad refereeing, but even adding the extra yardage and score to Osweiler's ledger would only have gotten his numbers up to adequate. Much as the Texans' defense has held its own without J.J. Watt, the Chargers' secondary has held up OK without Jason Verrett, ranking 10th in QB rating against (86.7), one spot behind Houston (86.3). This might be a game where both teams keep the ball on the ground more than anyone anticipates. ... Brandon Flowers (concussion) is out for San Diego, while Travis Benjamin (knee) is still listed as questionable despite practicing all week. Houston doesn't list any key players on their injury report.

Predictions: Melvin Gordon gains 120 combined yards and a receiving TD. Rivers throws for 240 yards and a second score to Dontrelle Inman. Lamar Miller runs for 90 yards and a touchdown. Osweiler throws for 190 yards and TDs to Will Fuller and C.J. Fiedorowicz. Texans, 24-20


Seattle at Tampa Bay (+6), 45 o/u – Sunday, 4:05 p.m. EST

Comments: All of a sudden, the Seahawks look like they can cruise to a division title. They've lost just once in their last eight games and are three games clear of the Cardinals in the NFC West, leaving them the final six weeks to start firing on all cylinders and gear up for another Super Bowl run. Expect them to spend most of those weeks sorting out their backfield picture. C.J. Prosise appeared to be solidifying at least a significant role, if not an outright starting gig, before breaking his shoulder blade and likely being lost for the rest of the regular season. Thomas Rawls looked OK in his return to action last week, but has yet to prove he can handle anything close to a full workload. That leaves rookie Alex Collins as the dark horse possibility, but he has yet to get more than six touches or 18 snaps in a game. A Tampa Bay defense that's in the bottom third of the league against the run should give Pete Carroll a good read on who's capable of what, though. ... It's time to find out if the new and improved Jameis Winston is for real. He's been outstanding since the Bucs' bye, averaging 271 passing yards with a 62.6 percent completion rate and an 11:2 TD:INT over the last five games, but those five games weren't against Seattle. They're one of four teams left with more INTs than TD passes allowed, tied for the league lead in sacks with 31 (and that's with Michael Bennett being out since Week 7), and are overall fifth in QB rating against (79.9). Given that Winston's been sacked 23 times this year – he was only brought down 27 times all of last season – the Bucs' o-line could end up being the difference in this game, one way or the other. ... Doug Martin appears healthy but has been woefully ineffective in two games since returning to action, so if Jacquizz Rodgers (foot) is active he could get more touches than expected. In addition to Bennett's continued absence, Earl Thomas (hamstring) is set to miss the first game of his pro career.

Predictions: Rawls gains 80 yards and a TD. Russell Wilson has a big game, throwing for 280 yards and touchdowns to Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett and Collins. Martin grinds out 40 yards, while Rodgers adds 30. Winston throws for 250 yards and scores to Mike Evans and Cameron Brate. Seahawks, 34-20


New England at N.Y. Jets (+8), 47 o/u – Sunday, 4:25 p.m. EST

Comments: The spread and the standings say blowout, but history suggests otherwise. Seven of the last eight games between the Jets and Pats have been decided by a single score or less, with three going to overtime, and the lone exception (a 49-19 shellacking by Tom Brady and company) happened back in 2012. Gang Green has plenty of problems right now, not least of which is the fact that they're still stuck with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center, but they do seem to find a way to get their act together against their bitterest divisional foe. ... This week, Bill Belichick decided it would be quicker to list which of his players on offense weren't considered questionable on the injury report. The backfield is in good shape, especially with Dion Lewis now healthy, but just about every other skill player of note has some sort of issue or other. Brady missed a couple of practices with a knee injury, but will play, as should Julian Edelman (foot) and Martellus Bennett (ankle/shoulder). Chris Hogan (back) is a little iffier, and could cede snaps to Malcolm Mitchell even if he does suit up. The biggest surprise is Rob Gronkowski (chest), who's made enough progress to be a game-time decision. That's not great for fantasy purposes given the later start time on the game, but the Jets have been middle of the pack against tight ends this season so if Gronk can go, you have to think about using him despite the risk he'll be little more than a decoy as a receiver. ... The key to this game could be turnovers. The Pats are just a plus-1 in that category on the season, but the Jets are a miserable minus-12, second-worst in the NFL. Fitzpatrick's 13 INTs covers most of that, but the defense's eight takeaways (also tied for second-worst) hasn't helped matters either.

Predictions: LeGarrette Blount rumbles for 60 yards, while Lewis adds a receiving TD. Brady throws for 270 yards and two more touchdowns, to Mitchell and Gronk. Matt Forte racks up 120 combined yards and a touchdown. Fitzpatrick gets picked off twice and throws for 220 yards and a TD to Brandon Marshall, but a Sheldon Richardson fumble return for a score almost salvages the game for the Jets. Patriots, 27-24


Carolina (+3) at Oakland, 49 o/u – Sunday, 4:25 p.m. EST

Comments: Sometimes, it's better to be lucky than good. Cam Newton had arguably his worst game of the season last week against the Saints, but the Panthers still manages to sneak away with a win. Carolina will need their star to provide them with a little more offense if they're going to keep pace with Oakland on Sunday, though. The Raiders' pass defense is vulnerable – they sit 27th in YPA allowed at 7.9 – but Cam's thrown multiple TDs in a game just twice all year, and hasn't managed to do it since Week 6. If he can't do some damage through the air, this one could get out of hand quickly. ... That's mainly because the Panthers' pass defense is even worse. They sit 24th in QB rating against (95.5) and now they'll be without Luke Kuechly (concussion). Derek Carr has been alternating big games with quiet ones lately, and would be due for a weak line if the pattern holds, but it's hard to imagine Carolina slowing him down without their defensive stud and relying on two rookie corners to contain Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. ... Crabtree is questionable with an ankle injury, but should play. Latavius Murray is also questionable, also with an ankle issue, and also should play. Kuechly's the only big name on the Panthers' injury report, but isn't that enough?

Predictions: Jonathan Stewart rambles for 70 yards and a TD. Newton throws for 240 yards and a touchdown to Greg Olsen. Murray leaves the game early, but Jalen Richard picks up 80 combined yards and a receiving TD in his place. Richard also returns a punt for a second score. Carr throws for 320 yards and two more TDs, one to Cooper (who pulls down 110 yards) and one to Clive Walford. Raiders, 31-20


Kansas City (+3) at Denver, 39.5 o/u – Sunday, 8:30 p.m. EST

Comments: If you look at the standings in the AFC West, these teams are almost joined at the hip. Both are 7-3, with identical home and away records (4-1 and 3-2, respectively). The Broncos have a slight edge in point differential, but the Chiefs' 2-0 divisional record given them a tiebreaker edge at the moment. Basically, this game has serious playoff implications. Last time these two teams met in Denver, Kansas City shocked everyone by beating the eventual champs 29-13, but before that the Broncos had won seven straight against the Chiefs. KC won last season's game without Jamaal Charles, but neither Spencer Ware nor Charcandrick West are performing the way they did in 2015. West had the big haul in that victory – 161 yards from scrimmage and two TDs – but at least one of them will probably have to step up Sunday against a Broncos defense allowing 123.7 rushing yards a game, 29th in the league. ... When the season started, Trevor Siemian looked like a pure game manager, a bus driver of a QB who would keep the mistakes to a minimum and let the running game and defense do all the work. Then he torched the Bengals for four TDs in Week 3, and suddenly he was a future superstar. Since, he's only thrown for seven touchdowns in six games, putting him back in the bus driver category, but four of them have come in the last two games so there's been some speculation that he might only now be healthy again after injuring his shoulder in Week 4. It's a nice story, but all three of the defenses he's had "big" games against have been mediocre or worse against the pass (Bengals, Raiders and Saints), so he'll need to do it against a better secondary before I'm convinced. He'll get that chance Sunday. The Chiefs are seventh in QB rating against (83.9) and lead the league in interceptions with 13. ... Denver has no big names on their injury report. Jeremy Maclin (groin) remains out for Kansas City, but their bigger issues might come on the other side of the ball, as Dontari Poe (back), Derrick Johnson (Achilles) and Marcus Peters (hip) are all less than 100 percent.

Predictions: Ware rushes for 80 yards. Alex Smith throws for just 170 yards, but does find Travis Kelce in the end zone. Devontae Booker busts out for 110 yards and a touchdown, while Siemian throws for 220 yards and a score to Demaryius Thomas. Broncos, 20-10


Green Bay (+4) at Philadelphia, 47.5 o/u – Monday, 8:30 p.m. EST

Comments: Over the last four games, Aaron Rodgers has averaged 316.3 passing yards a game with a 12:3 TD:INT, a 64.2 percent completion rate and a 7.3 YPA. The result? An 0-4 slide into third place in the NFC North. That's not how it's supposed to go for the Packers, but a secondary gutted by injuries has left the defense utterly incapable of stopping the other team, and they've given up a whopping 38.3 points per game during that skid, a scoring pace not even Rodgers could match. Damarious Randall (groin) could return Monday after being out since Week 6, but he's hardly going to turn things around by himself. If there's a bright side for Green Bay, it's that they'll be facing one of the few passing attacks that might not be able to exploit their weakness. Carson Wentz has a 4:6 TD:INT over his last six games, averaging 222 passing yards a game with a 6.0 YPA during that stretch. ... Ryan Mathews (knee) is out for Philly, saving anyone with fantasy shares in him the agony of watching him blow up on their bench or fizzle in their starting lineup again. The Packers remain statistically stout on the ground, allowing 91.1 rushing yards a game (6th) and a 3.7 YPC (8th), but teams haven't needed to run much against them. Darren Sproles and Wendell Smallwood should split the touches for the Eagles, but neither are likely to produce a big game unless they can get some bulk carries late as Philly tries to protect a lead, a job that would seem better suited for Smallwood. ... Mathews is the only major name on the injury report for the Eagles. MLB Jake Ryan (ankle) is questionable for the Packers.

Predictions: James Starks rushes for 70 yards and a TD. Rodgers throws for 270 yards and touchdowns to Davante Adams and Ty Montgomery. Smallwood leads the Eagles' backfield with 50 yards. Wentz throws for 250 yards and scores to Jordan Matthews and Dorial Green-Beckham, but also gets picked off late to squelch any chance at a comeback. Packers, 24-20

Last week's record: 10-4, 6-7-1 ATS, 10-4 o/u
2016 regular season record: 94-65-2, 69-85-7 ATS, 84-75-2 o/u