Around the NFC
NFC East battle: A bona fide major showdown comes Sunday night in Philadelphia featuring the Eagles, they of the last unblemished record in the NFL, against the 4-1 Cowboys. Another opportunity for quarterback Jalen Hurts to continue his early MVP push and another opportunity for QB Cooper Rush to keep the good times rolling in Dallas. Philly’s got to beat a backup quarterback if it’s going to establish itself as the force in the division, but Hurts and company also haven’t seen a defense like the Cowboys’ yet. Think some teams regret not giving Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn a longer look this offseason for a head coaching position?
C’mon, Commanders: Not exactly breaking news that Dan Snyder has failed to shower himself in glory as the owner in Washington, but an ESPN investigative report brought even more embarrassment to the franchise and, among other things, built on a report from USA Today great Jarrett Bell earlier this fall that other owners may be thinking about ways to get Snyder out of power. File that to believe-it-when-we-see-it, but the fact that other billionaires would even consider taking that kind of action against one of their own in the midst of such booming profits is remarkable in its own right.
Odell watch: Odell Beckham’s original timeline for finding a team felt likely to happen sometime in November and, wouldn’t you know it, time flies this time of year. There’s been some verbal sparring with the Rams, a visit to the 4-1 Giants, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers saying he just wants to see the talented receiver healthy but, sure, of course he does, “like the person, love the player.” Any other teams out there in search of adding some punch to their offensive weaponry that happen to have, oh, I don’t know, the second-most remaining cap space in football?
Around the AFC
Zappe time: On Oct. 3, 2020, Bailey Zappe threw for 380 yards and three touchdowns for Houston Baptist (now Houston Christian) in a win over Eastern Kentucky. Two years later, he led the New England Patriots to a 29-0 win over Detroit. Zappe’s rise has been fun to watch from a video game numbers college career to being the Patriots’ third-stringer to now looking at his second straight start. Can he keep it going? That would threaten to turn a good story into a great one.
Davante push: Not so good for Davante Adams, the Raiders’ All-Pro wide receiver, after he pushed a cameraman on the way up the tunnel following a last-second loss to Kansas City on Sunday night. Naturally, said cameraman filed a police report so that it can become the latest in a seemingly endless parade of litigation. Adams, certainly, should not have done what he did. Citations and lawsuits and all of that? Is it really necessary?
In the Pitts(burgh): How bad are the Steelers? Wow. They were two-touchdown underdogs to the Bills and Vegas still should have pushed the line further. Buffalo scored 31 in the first half and could have picked its number. Mike Tomlin is among the very best NFL coaches and, bar none, holds one of the most impressive feats in the league’s modern history in that he’s never had a losing season in 15 at the helm in Pittsburgh. That’s likely coming to an end this year for the 1-4 Steelers, who are eight-point home underdogs to Tampa Bay this weekend.
Game of the Week
Buffalo at Kansas City
Could it be anything else? The two best players in the NFL so far this season going up against each other in a repeat of one of the great AFC playoff games of all time last January. Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen are must-see television. They’re first and second, respectively, in touchdown passes, top five in passing yards and so far have combined for 29 touchdowns and six interceptions. Both teams have a single loss on their ledger but are clearly among the very best in football. In a very rare setup, Mahomes and the Chiefs are three-point home underdogs.
Bills 31, Chiefs 30
Lock of the Week
Carolina at Los Angeles Rams
The Rams’ Super Bowl hangover has been a stickler. The kind maybe you think is going away and then roars back when you try to get up off the couch. How long it lasts, who knows? But this is the period where the aspirin is at full strength. Carolina fired coach Matt Ruhle at the beginning of last week and has spent the time since trying to convince itself that the season’s not already lost. Maybe it’s not, but a coach firing and a long trip West is not a great recipe for success.
Rams 28, Panthers 13
Upset of the Week
Jacksonville at Indianapolis
The Jags have lost two straight, including a dispiriting 13-6 loss to Houston last weekend. Even still, Indianapolis’ offensive line is a mess. The Colts might get Jonathan Taylor back this week, which would obviously be a big boost, but Matt Ryan has been a turnover machine so far this season and Jacksonville should get good enough play from Trevor Lawrence to overcome the lowest-scoring offense in football.
Jaguars 21, Colts 17