GOLD JACKET FEATURE PRESENTATION
NEW ORLEANS @ L.A. RAMS, 4:25 p.m. (EDT)
The line: Rams by 2
The weather: Partly cloudy, high of 88
The story: The last time these two met the stakes were high. It was to see who was going to the Super Bowl … and we all know what happened. New Orleans believes it was the better team (and maybe the only team capable of beating Tom Brady) and was so incensed with the outcome it demanded a replay. Well, guess what: The Saints got their wish. They have something to prove to their fans … and the NFL ... and that something goes like this: Yes, in fact, we can … and will … beat the Rams if Al Riveron and his officials can just get out of the way. If nothing else, this gives us an early read on NFC royalty. We know both will be there in January. But in what order? Tune in.
Something to consider: The Saints were 7-1 on the road last season, best in the NFL.
THREE OTHERS WORTHY OF HALL OF FRAMING
MINNESOTA @ GREEN BAY, 1 p.m. (EDT)
The line: Packers by 3
The weather: AM clouds/PM sun high of 74
The story: Aaron Rodgers showed up at practice this week with a wristband play sheet. The reason? He’s hoping to perk up an offense that looked sluggish in last week’s win over Chicago. But it’s not a wristband Rodgers needs. It’s this opponent. For whatever reason, the guy is lights-out vs. the Vikes, with seven games of passer ratings of 130 or more. Good? Nope. Great? You bet. In fact, according to Elias Sports Bureau, nobody in NFL history has done that vs. one opponent. Rodgers also has 41 TDs and six interceptions in 21 career games with Minnesota. Wonder why the Vikings are three-point dogs here? It’s not that experts don’t trust them. It’s that they trust Rodgers more.
Something to consider: The Packers scored 23-plus points in 11 of their last 13 home games vs. Minnesota.
SEATTLE @ PITTSBURGH, 1 p.m. (EDT)
The line: Steelers by 3-1/2
The weather: Mostly sunny, high of 83
The story: Mike Tomlin says his Steelers “are foaming at the mouth” to get things turned around, and it makes sense. They stunk last week. Offense. Defense. Coaching. They stunk. “Didn’t play well enough last week. Didn’t coach well enough last week.” That just about sums it up. Only … wait. That wasn’t Tomlin speaking. It was the Seahawks’ Russell Wilson on Seattle’s 21-20 escape vs. Cincinnati. But they won. The Steelers did not. So they get the edge here because they’re home, Ben Roethlisberger doesn’t go two straight games without finding the end zone and … well, because they’re “foaming at the mouth.”
Something consider: Russell Wilson has two or more TD passes in 12 of his last 13 road starts.
KANSAS CITY @ OAKLAND, 4:05 p.m. (EDT)
The line: Chiefs by 7
The weather: Partly cloudy, high of 73
The story: Someone asked me the other day, “So, what are we to make of the Raiders after Week One?” Answer: We’re about to find out. Yeah, they won, and that’s great. But there were numerous second-half opportunities for Joe Flacco and Denver to close the gap. Of course, either he … or his teammates … and, most likely, both …. weren’t up to it. OK, it happens. But it won’t happen here. Patrick Mahomes is no ordinary Joe.
Something to consider: The game marks the last time an NFL game will be played on a dirt infield. That’s because the Raiders go on the road after this, not returning home until Nov. 3 – or after the World Series. The Raiders move to Las Vegas next year.
OUR BEST BETS
(All picks are made against the spread)
RON BORGES – Kansas City (--7). The Raiders won on emotion last week, but Patrick Mahomes is no Joe Flacco. He’s Superman. (Season record: 1-0).
CLARK JUDGE – L.A. Chargers (--2). Only another bailout can save Detroit. (Season record: 1-0).
RICK GOSSELIN – Houston (--8-1/2). The Texans came oh-so-close to beating Drew Brees on the road. This time they get a rookie QB making his first NFL start. (Season record: 1-0).
Cam Newton hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass in four straight games and hasn’t won in eight.
WEEKEND BULLETIN BOARD
“Anybody can do that.” -- Washington CB Josh Norman on **Dak Prescott’**s performance last week when he was 25 of 32 for 405 yards and four TDs.
FIVE GUYS TO WATCH
KYLER MURRAY, QB, Arizona. With 300 yards passing, he joins Cam Newton as the only two quarterbacks in NFL history to throw for over 300 yards in their first two starts.
DAK PRESCOTT, QB, Dallas. He can become the first player in league history to throw for four TDs, 350 yards and no interceptions in each of three consecutive games.
MARQUISE BROWN, WR, Baltimore. OK, so he’s questionable with a hip injury. He’ll play. And with two more TD catches, he can become the first player in NFL history to have two scoring receptions in each of his first two NFL games.
ADAM THIELEN, WR, Minnesota. He has eight or more catches in four of his last five games vs. Green Bay.
SAQUON BARKLEY, RB, N.Y. Giants. In eight home games last season he averaged 133 yards from scrimmage and scored seven times.
TEN THINGS YOU MIGHT WANT TO REMEMBER
Since realignment began in 2002, 126 of the 204 playoff teams (or 61.8 percent) began 1-1 or 0-2, including ten teams last season. Plus, seven of last year’s 12 playoff teams lost in Week One, with five of them winning the following week.,
Miami won five of its past six home games vs. New England.
Under defensive coordinator Don Martindale, the Ravens have held opponents to no more than 200 yards five times in the past 17 regular-season games.
Houston is 32-3 under Bill O’Brien (since 2014) when leading at the half. Only New England (54-4) and Denver (34-3) are better.
The Chargers won nine of their last 11 road games.
Five of the next six Green Bay games are home.
Oakland last started 2-0 vs. the AFC West in 2010.
The Vikings last weekend produced four sacks, the 26th time under Mike Zimmer they’ve done that. They’re 21-4-1 in those games.
Tennessee has 10.5 sacks from its defensive secondary under coach Mike Vrabel … or since 2018. Nobody has more, with Minnesota second at 7.5.
Since the start of last season, New Orleans leads everyone in fourth-quarter differential with a plus-85 (175-90). Tennessee is second at plus-60 (122-62).