game of the week
Las Vegas at the LA Chargers
Big-time Monday game between 3-0 Raiders (plus-3 1/2) and 2-1 Chargers. Las Vegas averages a league-best 471 yards, although aided by two overtime wins. But we throw a late touchdown with Bolt quarterback Justin Herbert.
Chargers 27, Raiders 23
lock of the week
Tampa Bay in New England
During Tom Brady’s time in New England, the Patriots were at least as often a seven-point domestic underdog: none. The Buccaneers are the seven-point favorites and Brady’s mindset is predictable. He wants to destroy his old team.
Buccaneers 42, Patriots 20
upset of the week
Detroit in Chicago
The Bears set back offensive football in last week’s loss in Cleveland, which ended with 47 yards (the second lowest in team history since 1940). The Winless Lions (plus-three) are on the better side now and coach Dan Campbell gets his first win.
Leo 19, Bear 7
NFC Around: Tom Brady Returns to New England on Peak of All Time Passing Record
Brady close to record Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady is facing New England for the first time since leaving the Patriots in March 2020. Brady needs 68 passing yards to become the all-time leader of the NFL, which is currently held by Drew Brees (80,358). The top five are Breeze, Brady (80,291), Peyton Manning (71,940), Brett Favre (71,838) and Philip Rivers (63,440). A win placed Brady as the only quarterback to defeat all 32 teams along with Breeze, Manning and Favre. Additionally on the Tampa Bay milestone front, Rob Gronkowski needs 16 yards to climb to fifth place in receiving yards by a tight end (currently 8,558).
Dallas “D” kind of better. New Dallas defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has already been a big influence on the Cowboys’ defense… sort of. They lead the league with eight takeaways and are in first place with a plus-five turnover margin. The Cowboys had 23 takeaways in 16 games last year. But they enter Sunday’s home game against undefeated Carolina, finishing 26th in most yards allowed (402.0) and defending second-worst passes (331.7). The takeaways, however, cover a lot of warts.
Amazing Cardinals. Is Arizona Real? The Cardinals are 3-0 and have led their opponents 103-65, including 69-27 in road wins over Tennessee and Jacksonville. They’re not raising it well (3.9-yard average), but six players have at least 10 catches and quarterback Kyler Murray has an 113.4 passer rating (though four interceptions). The next three games will help the Cardinals become a contender—or even a run—at the Rams (Matthew Stafford playing the Lights out), versus San Francisco (who will block Nick Bosa?) and Cleveland (who will block Miles Garrett?). ) )
Around the AFC: Need time for Kansas City to enter the game in Philadelphia? Yes.
Necessary victory for the Chiefs? Kansas City has lost two games in a row for only the third time in quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ early career. The Chiefs play in the terrifying Philadelphia, which makes it a win because 1-3 could mean three games behind the Broncos or Las Vegas. Mahomes’ starting record is 39–10, and a win would join Ken Stabler as the only quarterback to win 40 of his first 50 career starts in the Super Bowl era. Stabler was 40-9-1. Tom Brady and Danny White (38-12) are in third place, followed by Dan Marino and Jim McMahon (37-13).
The Steelers are searching. Pittsburgh, so impressive in its Week 1 victory in Buffalo, has lost home games to Las Vegas and Cincinnati. Its running game is broken (last and carry per game at 53.0 and 3.18, respectively) and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is third in the league with 130 pass attempts. It’s so bad that Bengals receiver Tyler Boyd said the Steelers “given up” last week. Well, coach Mike Tomlin didn’t like it. “I don’t care about Tyler Boyd’s opinion of what happened at any point during the game,” Tomlin said. Pittsburgh plays in Green Bay on Sunday.
The month of the sack Last year, no NFL player reached 16 sacks (one per game); Pittsburgh’s TJ Watt was first on 15. But through three games, 16 players, led by Cleveland’s Miles Garrett (5 1/2), are averaging at least one sack per game. 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 opening games show is a lack of offensive line depth.