Buckle up!: The Pats take on Denver

It seems like a lifetime ago when the Cam Newton-led Patriots ran all over the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 3, en route to a 36-20 victory. Unfortunately for the team, Newton tested positive for COVID-19 the ensuing Saturday, right before their Week 4 matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs. That game was delayed and played on Monday night, with Brian Hoyer & Jarrett Stidham at quarterback during the 26-10 loss. The Patriots were meant to play the Denver Broncos (1-3) in Week 5, but Stephon Gilmore’s positive COVID-19 test led to this game being delayed to Week 6.

Here’s what to expect entering this Week 6 contest.

1. Can Cam & the offense regain their rhythm?

As I mentioned earlier, this game will be three weeks since the last time Cam Newton took the field for the Patriots, which makes this game important for New England’s offense to regain its footing as the season becomes increasingly difficult. Denver’s rushing defense ranks amongst the top half in the league, but I’d still expect Josh McDaniels to focus on establishing the run throughout the game. Having a strong rushing attack with Damien Harris, James White, & Rex Burkhead will help take pressure off of Newton in his first game back, and also open up play-action passes down the field. As Sony Michel is still on IR, and has also tested positive for COVID-19, it wouldn’t be surprising to see JJ Taylor back in the lineup as the fourth running back.

Hopefully the extended break helped Julian Edelman heal from his knee ailment that has bothered him for the past few weeks. More than anything else, I’m sure that he can’t wait to get back out there to make up for his crucial drop against the Chiefs. The Patriots need continuous production from N’Keal Harry & Damiere Byrd, as they have been able to establish some chemistry with Newton. I’m intrigued to see what practice squad receiver Isaiah Zuber can do, as his brief appearance in the Chiefs’ game was intriguing, due to his speed. It’s also been disappointing to see the lack of production from the tight end position, even though the team has been hyping up their production at practice.

If the Patriots can protect Newton from Denver’s pass rush, I would expect the offense to have a good performance tomorrow.

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(Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

2. Can the Pats’ D contain the banged up Denver offense?

After a hard fought bout against a high-powered Kansas City offense, the Patriots’ defense will be facing an offense that is missing several key playmakers. Despite the return of second-year quarterback Drew Lock after a several week absence, Denver will be playing without their top running back, wide receiver, & tight end. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Denver try to establish their running game, due to the strength of the Patriots’ secondary & the relative inexperience of Lock. Limiting the effectiveness of Phillip Lindsey will be heavily important if the Patriots’ defense wants to ensure success.

I’d expect Bill Belichick’s defense to focus in on rookie receiver Jerry Jeudy, as he will clearly be Denver’s top threat down the field, with Stephon Gilmore likely drawing the assignment. In addition, I think that Belichick will test Drew Lock with heavy pressure, hence challenging the young quarterback to beat the Patriots’ secondary with his arm.

I would be surprised if the Patriots’ defense has a down game tomorrow, but anything is possible in the NFL!

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(Isaiah J. Downing/USA TODAY Sports

Injury Report:

Patriots:

  • Adam Butler (shoulder) – Questionable
  • Julian Edelman (knee) – Questionable
  • Isaiah Wynn (calf) – Questionable

Broncos

  • Drew Lock (shoulder) – Questionable
  • Mike Purcell (knee) – Questionable
  • Jeremiah Attaochu (quadriceps) – Out
  • Melvin Gordon III (illness) – Out
  • KJ Hamler (hamstring) – Out
  • Noah Fant (ankle) – Out

What’re they wearing?:

Pats v Broncos 20w6 uni matchup
(Photo courtesy of the Gridiron Uniform Database)

Prediction: Patriots 27, Broncos 14

Here are my picks for the rest of the NFL’s Week 6 contests.

Last week: 8-5

Texans at Titans: Titans

Ravens at Eagles: Ravens

Falcons at Vikings: Vikings

Browns at Steelers: Steelers

Bengals at Colts: Colts

Lions at Jaguars: Lions

Bears at Panthers: Bears

Washington at Giants: Giants

Jets at Dolphins: Dolphins

Packers at Buccaneers: Buccaneers

Rams at 49ers: Rams

Chiefs at Bills: Chiefs

Cardinals at Cowboys: Cardinals

The Pats take away Danny’s Dimes en route to a win against the Giants!

TEAM

1

2

3

4

T

NYG 0 14 0 0 14

NE

7 14 0 14 35

Even though the Patriots were able to defeat the Giants (2-4) by 21 points, yesterday’s game was much tighter than the scoreboard may indicate. The 35-14 victory improved the Pats to 6-0 on the season, and has them on top of the AFC, as the conference’s only undefeated team.

Here are some takeaways from this Week 6 contest.

1. The Pats’ defense was great once again!

Facing a short-handed Giants offense definitely played into the Pats’ hands, as they were able to stifle New York for most of the game. Stephon Gilmore arguably had his most active game of the year, as Daniel Jones opted to target him 6 times, which resulted in only 1 completion for 8 yards. The other 5 passes turned out to be an interception by Gilmore, a deflected pass that was picked off by John Simon, and 3 incompletions. Duron Harmon caught the second of Jones’ three interceptions, after an effective pass rush by Danny Shelton forced an errant throw. The Pats were able to confuse Jones with their coverage, and they sacked him 1 time, along with 8 QB hits. Jones is known for being mobile, but he was limited to 8 rushing yards off of 2 carries. However, the Pats were beaten by Jones on one play, when he lofted a perfect ball to Golden Tate that resulted in a 64-yard touchdown (and the first passing touchdown for a Pats’ opponent all year). Obviously, Bill Belichick won’t be happy seeing that play on film, but there was nothing that Jonathan Jones could do on that play, as Daniel Jones beat his perfect coverage with perfect ball placement. 

The Pats’ vaunted ‘Boogeymen’ linebackers struck again yesterday, as Jamie Collins Sr. and Kyle Van Noy combined for a forced fumble that was returned for a touchdown. This score was initially ruled out of bounds, but overturned after the referees took a second look at it. Van Noy’s touchdown came at a crucial point in the game when the Pats were only up by a touchdown, and ensured that New York wouldn’t be able to mount a comeback.

The Pats’ defense continues to play at a high level, and will need to be at their absolute best as the schedule ahead begins to get more difficult.

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(Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

2. Another inconsistent outing for the offense

The Pats’ offense once again looked anemic for most of yesterday’s game, as it took them six drives to score a touchdown. In addition, Tom Brady had 2 uncharacteristic turnovers, with his first one being an errant throw that missed a wide-open Julian Edelman and was caught by Giants’ CB Janoris Jenkins, and the second one being a strip sack that was caused by Brady holding the ball for far too much time. That strip sack resulted in a Giants touchdown (which tied the game at 14 apiece), but was almost far more costly for the Pats’ offense, as Josh Gordon’s knee bent awkwardly when he went to tackle Markus Golden. Fortunately for New England, Gordon avoided a serious injury (although he didn’t return to the game), but the injury scare only seems to highlight the sudden need for another dynamic target at wide receiver. Edelman was his normal self yesterday, as he had 9 receptions for 113 yards, with his main highlight being a marvelous 36-yard catch, where #11 dove to get the ball. In the words of Rob Gronkowski: The furry Edelman fought to get his nut once again! 

Due to Gordon’s absence, Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski were thrust into the limelight, and performed adequately when called upon. After the game, both Belichick and Brady mentioned that the sudden lack of players at wide receiver forced the Pats to stick with one personnel grouping throughout the game. It was another subpar outing for the Pats’ rushing attack, as Sony Michel only mustered 86 yards off of 22 carries, with a good chunk of it coming from a 26-yard run during garbage time. It’s hard to deny that New England’s most successful running back last night was a player by the name of Tom Brady who had 7 carries for 6 yards, along with 2 touchdowns, which both came off of QB sneaks at the goal-line. 

As I mentioned in my preview for this game, any sort of success for the Patriots’ offense would be predicated on the success of the offensive line to protect Brady and help out Michel. Unfortunately, the offensive line was not at its best yesterday, as Brady was sacked 3 times, and was hit an additional 6 times. Throughout the game, he did not have enough time to effectively survey the field, which killed a few drives in the process. 

All in all, the Patriots need to find an answer on offense, as riding the coattails of their defense and special teams will not be a recipe for success during the tail end of their schedule.

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(Elise Amendola/AP)

3. Yet another mixed bag for special teams

One of the major talking points entering yesterday’s game was the potential impact of the gusting winds in Foxborough, and the wind did not disappoint! On a number of drives in Giants’ territory, Bill Belichick opted to go for it on fourth down, instead of attempting field goals, due to the obstacle presented by the wind in the stadium. Mike Nugent missed a 40-yard field goal which hit the upright, but was able to convert on 5 extra points.

Special teams was responsible for the Pats’ first touchdown of the game, as a punt by Riley Dixon in the first quarter bounced off of his teammate’s helmet, and landed in the hands of Chase Winovich, who proceeded to run into the end zone for his first career touchdown.

Hopefully Nugent will be able to rebound over the next few weeks, and having touchdowns via special teams will continue to help the Pats win games!

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(Elise Amendola/AP)

Bonus:

1. TB12 passes Peyton Manning for the second-most passing yards in NFL history!

Here’s the pass that broke the record:

https://twitter.com/Patriots/status/1182455343466602499

Here’s the team congratulating him in the locker room after the game:

2. Gronk makes his Fox Sports debut!

Yesterday’s game also marked Rob Gronkowski’s debut as a member of the Fox Sports, which featured some classic Gronk moments, such as this breakdown of Julian Edelman and Tom Brady.

3. Color Rush!

It’s always a sight to behold when the Pats wear their Color Rush uniforms, and last night’s victory improved them to 5-0 in their alternates.

tb cr w619.png
(Photo via Getty Images)

Statistical Leaders:

Patriots

  • Passing: Tom Brady – 31/41 for 334 yards and 1 interception
  • Rushing: Sony Michel – 22 carries for 86 yards
  • Passing: Julian Edelman – 9 receptions for 113 yards
  • Defensive: Jason McCourty & Jonathan Jones – 4 tackles each

Giants

  • Passing: Daniel Jones – 15/31 for 161 yards, 1 touchdown & 3 interceptions
  • Rushing: Jonathan Hilliman – 11 carries for 38 yards
  • Receiving: Golden Tate – 6 receptions for 102 yards and 1 touchdown
  • Defensive: David Mayo – 13 tackles (including 0.5 sacks)

 

What’s next?: The Pats head over to Metlife Stadium to play New York’s other team, the Jets (0-4), for the second time this season, under the bright lights of Monday Night Football. Unlike Week 3’s matchup, Sam Darnold will likely be playing for New York. 

 

Giant Encounter: Will the Pats vanquish their old nemesis on TNF?

Over the past decade, the matchups between the Patriots and Giants (2-3) have been must-watch football, due to the intensity at which these games have been played. Despite the dominance of the Pats during the Brady-Belichick era, the Giants have constantly been a thorn in their side, as evidenced by their ability to knock off New England in Super Bowl XLII and Super Bowl XLVI. Thankfully for Patriots’ fans, their eternal tormenter Eli Manning will not be starting for the Giants, as his ineffective start to the season paved the way for rookie phenom Daniel Jones to take over the starting job.

Here are some things to consider entering this matchup on Thursday Night Football.

1. Can TB and the offense maintain their momentum?

 The Patriots’ offense rebounded spectacularly against the hapless Redskins defense in Week 5, with Sony Michel and the revitalized rushing attack fueling a second half explosion that put the game away. Tom Brady and the offense should have another successful outing against a struggling Giants’ defense that gave up almost 500 yards of total offense to the Vikings in Week 5.

I think that the key to victory for the Pats will be to establish the rushing game, which will allow their banged up receiving corps to get some rest throughout the game . In addition, with the forecast calling for rain and wind in Foxborough, rushing the ball with ferocious intent may allow the Pats to wear down New York’s defense.

As always, any sort of offensive success will be predicated on the offensive line’s ability to protect Brady and provide ample running room for Michel.

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(Photo via NESN)

2. Are all the signs pointing towards another defensive masterpiece?

Although Daniel Jones has had a good start to his NFL career, he faces a tall task against the Pats’ defense, which leads the NFL in several categories. Even more concerning for Jones is the fact that he will be missing several of his key position players, including Saquon Barkley, Wayne Gallman, Sterling Shepard, and Evan Engram.

Bill Belichick and Jerod Mayo may opt to dial up the pressure on Jones, who has been sloppy with the football at times. Having an effective pass rush, coupled with a wet environment, could lead to fumbles if the Patriots are aggressive enough.

If the Patriots continue to play their brand of defense, they should be able to shut down New York’s offense.

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(Photo via USA TODAY Sports)

Injury Report:

Patriots

  • Phillip Dorsett (hamstring) – Out
  • Rex Burkhead (foot) – Out
  • Shilique Calhoun (ankle) – Questionable
  • Patrick Chung (heel) – Questionable
  • Nate Ebner (groin) – Questionable
  • Julian Edelman (chest) – Questionable
  • Josh Gordon (knee) – Questionable

Giants

  • Saquon Barkley (ankle) – Out
  • Wayne Gallman (concussion) – Out
  • Sterling Shepard (concussion) – Out
  • Evan Engram (knee) – Out
  • Lorenzo Carter (neck) – Questionable

 

Bonus:

1. Can TB12 knock off Peyton Manning?

As of right now, Tom Brady has 71,923 career passing yards, which is the third-most by any quarterback. Brady needs a mere 18 yards to pass Peyton Manning (71,940 yards) and move into second place behind Drew Brees, who has 78,845 yards.

tb passing yards w6.jpg
(David Tulis/UPI)

2. Color Rush!

Tonight’s game is the first of three games where the Pats will be wearing their fabulous Color Rush uniforms. Hopefully, they’ll be able to improve to 5-0 while wearing their alternates.

jules color rush .jpg
(Photo via NESN)

 

Prediction: Patriots 31, Giants 13

Here are my picks for the rest of the NFL’s Week 6 contests

Last week: 7-7

Panthers vs Buccaneers: Panthers

Redskins at Dolphins: Redskins

Saints at Jaguars: Jaguars

Bengals at Ravens: Ravens

Seahawks at Browns: Seahawks

Eagles at Vikings: Eagles

Texans at Chiefs: Chiefs

Falcons at Cardinals: Falcons

49ers at Rams: Rams

Titans at Broncos: Titans

Cowboys at Jets: Cowboys

Steelers at Chargers: Chargers

Lions at Packers: Packers

The Pats outlast the high-octane Chiefs in Sunday Night thriller!

TEAM

1

2

3

4

T

KC 6 3 17 14 40

NE

10 14 3 16 43

What a game!

Last night’s Week 6 contest between the Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs (5-1) definitely lived up to the hype, as the two teams flexed their offensive might in a game that had 83 combined points. The Pats eventually prevailed on a Stephen Gostkowski field goal that gave them the 43-40 win. 

Here are some takeaways from last night’s game.

1. The Pats offense was sensational!

A mere three weeks after looking absolutely inept on the offensive side of the ball against the Detroit Lions during a Week 3 clunker, the Patriots went toe to toe with one of the NFL’s best offenses with Tom Brady and Sony Michel leading the way. Brady was pretty unflappable throughout the game, as he had 340 passing yards and 1 passing touchdown, along with a jaw-dropping 4 yard touchdown run (only 15 yards away from 1,000 career rushing yards!). Sony Michel continued his stretch of dominance as he gashed the porous Chiefs defense for 106 yards and 2 touchdowns off of 24 carries. Michel demonstrated the quickness and agility he had at Georgia, as he was able to find his way through holes and pick up huge chunks of yardage. The Pats also enjoyed solid contributions from Julian Edelman ( 4 catches for 54 yards and 1 touchdown), Chris Hogan (4 catches for 78 yards), Josh Gordon ( 5 catches for 42 yards), and James White (6 rushes for 39 yards, and 5 catches for 53 yards). Rob Gronkowski was quiet for most of the game, but he came up clutch when the Patriots needed big plays to seal the deal. For instance, he had a huge 42-yard gain on the drive that increased their lead to 7 (which was aided by an impressive stiff arm!). On the game-winning drive, Gronk also had a 39 yard catch which put the Patriots in range to finish off the Chiefs. #87 finished with 3 catches for 97 yards).

More than anything, I would say that this game showed the mental toughness of the Patriots’ offense, as they were able to shake off losing their 15 point halftime lead, and miscues (such as Tom Brady’s fumble) and still have the ability to drive down the field at will. The Pats were able to win this game because their playmakers came up big when they were required to do so. 

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(Photo by Stephen Senne/AP)

2. The defense had its moments…

It’s hard to fault the Patriots’ defense for giving up 40 points, due to the explosiveness of their opponent, but the Pats were absolutely dissected by Patrick Mahomes and his assortment of weapons.

The first half was very efficient for the Pats defense, as they were able to get after Mahomes, and force him into 2 interceptions. The pressure in his face also forced him to miss wide-open receivers on what would have been sure-fire touchdowns. Limiting the Chiefs to 9 points in the first half was definitely a victory for the Patriots.

The second half was a completely different story for Mahomes and his offense, as evidenced by their opening drive, when Kareem Hunt torched the secondary for a 67-yard touchdown. To be fair to the Patriots’ defense, the next two touchdowns they gave up were not completely on them. The first one was due to a Tom Brady fumble deep in Pats’ territory, while the second one was due to a brilliant kickoff return that set them up mere yards away from the end zone. At the same time, the Pats’ secondary (especially the McCourty twins) could not seem to stop the blazing fast Tyreek Hill who burned them for 7 catches for 142 yards and 3 touchdowns. The secondary’s performance could be epitomized by Hill’s final touchdown, when he was open down the field and outran everyone in the secondary to tie the game at 40. Luckily enough for the Pats’ defense, the Pats’ offense had their back, as they used up the rest of the clock en route to a game-winning field goal.

The Pats defense should not be demoralized, but they can’t depend on the offense to score more than 40 points and bail them out every time they fail to stop their opponent. An example of this could be Super Bowl LII where both defenses struggled, with Philadelphia winning the game due to a strip-sack of Brady on what could have been a game-winning drive. 

mahomes v pats w6.jpg
(Photo via SI)

3. Playoff implications?

It’s never too early to talk about playoff implications in the NFL…

With a win last night, the Chiefs would have given themselves a great opportunity to eventually seize home-field advantage in the AFC. due to victories over the Jaguars, Steelers and the Patriots. However, due to the fact that the Patriots won last night, they will gain a head-to-head edge over the Chiefs, which will definitely come in handy if the two teams finish with the same record. 

Regardless of who finishes with the better record, it would be very entertaining to see these teams battle once more in January.

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(Photo via USA TODAY Sports)

Statistical Leaders:

Patriots

Passing: Tom Brady – 24/35 for 340 yards and 1 touchdown

Rushing: Sony Michel – 24 carries for 106 yards and 2 touchdowns

Receiving: Rob Gronkowski – 3 catches for 97 yards

Defensive: Trey Flowers and Elandon Roberts with 7 tackles each

Chiefs

Passing: Patrick Mahomes – 23/36 for 352 yards, 4 touchdowns and 2 interceptions

Rushing: Kareem Hunt – 10 carries for 80 yards

Receiving: Tyreek Hill – 7 catches for 142 yards and 3 touchdowns

Defensive: Anthony Hitchens – 14 tackles

 

What’s next: The Pats head to the Windy City to take on Khalil Mack and the fearsome Chicago Bears (3-2)

 

Showtime vs the GOAT!

On Sunday Night Football, the Patriots take on the high-flying Kansas City Chiefs (5-0) in a contest that may help to determine the flow of the 2019 AFC Playoffs. Coming off of a dominant 2-game winning streak, the Patriots will have their hands full against second-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes and his assortment of weapons…

Here are some things to consider entering Sunday’s game.

1. More of the same?

The last two times the Patriots have faced the Chiefs in the regular season, it has been rather lopsided in favor of Kansas City, as Andy Reid’s team has outscored the Pats 83-44, which may not sound encouraging for most Pats fans. Both games (in 2014 & 2017, respectively) featured an absolutely porous New England defense, along with Tom Brady running for his life, due to the inability of the offensive line to protect him. Most analysts project this game to be a shootout (which doesn’t bode well for the Pats defense), but Brady should be much more well-protected, as his offensive line is now amongst the top ten offensive lines in the league.

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(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

2. Gronk vs Kelce

Rob Gronkowski has been one of the most dominant tight ends in NFL history, ever since his entry to the league in 2010. Gronk’s position as the NFL’s top tight end has not really been questioned until now, as there are several analysts who now believe that Kansas City’s tight end, Travis Kelce, has surpassed Gronk. Reporters took advantage of this week’s matchup to question Gronk on his feelings about Kelce. Naturally, Gronk complimented Kelce’s ability as a pass-catcher and made a point of mentioning that this week’s game was between the Patriots and the Chiefs, not Gronk and Kelce. Putting my bias aside, I truly believe that Gronk is the superior tight end, as he is both a dynamic pass-catcher and a hell of a blocker for the running game. In comparison, Kelce is a great pass-catcher who benefits from having dynamic talents around him, and at the same time, he cannot block well at all.

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(Photo via NBC Sports)

3. Slowing down Mahomes & Co.

Patrick Mahomes has been seen as a legitimate MVP candidate due to his performance over the last 5 weeks, as he has thrown for over 1500 yards and 14 touchdowns. Mahomes has demonstrated an ability to get away from pressure and dissect defenses down the field with his impressive throwing arm. Unfortunately for the Pats, they’ll also have to deal with running back Kareem Hunt, who had his coming out party against them in last year’s opener, with over 250 total yards from scrimmage. Add in Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce to the mix, and it’s going to be hard for the Patriots to shut down all of Kansas City’s weapons. Luckily enough for Bill Belichick, he and his staff have had over 10 days to prepare for the Chiefs, so expect the Pats to have some tricks up their sleeves.

mahomes 1.jpg
(Photo by Charlie Riedel/AP)

4. Can the Brady Bunch keep pace with KC?

Last week’s game against the Colts was a good omen for the Pats offense, as they welcomed back Julian Edelman back from suspension, and received valuable contributions from other playmakers including Josh Gordon, Sony Michel, and James White. At the same time, the offense was slightly sloppy in the second half, which made the game too close for comfort. The Pats will need to be on their A-game on Sunday if they hope to keep up with Mahomes and the Chiefs. The Pats should be in for a shootout, as Kansas City’s defense currently ranks as the NFL’s worst defense in terms of yards allowed and they may be playing without two of their most important defenders in Eric Berry and Justin Houston, respectively. If the Pats can play at their highest potential, they will have a good chance of knocking off the undefeated Chiefs.

brady td v chiefs 16.jpg
(Photo by Matt Stone/Boston Herald)

Injury Report

Patriots

  • Malcom Brown (knee) – Questionable
  • Josh Gordon (hamstring) – Questionable
  • Geneo Grissom (ankle) – Questionable
  • Rob Gronkowski (ankle) – Questionable
  • Chris Hogan (thigh) – Questionable
  • Sony Michel (knee) – Questionable
  • Eric Rowe (groin) – Questionable
  • Danny Shelton (elbow) – Questionable
  • John Simon (shoulder) – Questionable

Chiefs

  • Eric Berry (heel) – Doubtful
  • Justin Houston (hamstring) – Doubtful
  • Tanoh Kpassagnon (ankle) – Questionable
  • Eric Murray (ankle) – Out
  • De’Anthony Thomas (tibia) – Out

Prediction: Patriots 37, Chiefs 31

Here are my predictions for the rest of the NFL’s Week 6 contests

Last week: 8-6

Buccaneers at Falcons: Falcons

Panthers at Redskins: Panthers

Seahawks at Raiders: Seahawks

Colts at Jets: Colts

Cardinals at Vikings: Vikings

Steelers at Bengals: Bengals

Chargers at Browns: Chargers

Bills at Texans: Texans

Bears at Dolphins: Bears

Rams at Broncos: Rams

Ravens at Titans: Ravens

Jaguars at Cowboys: Jaguars

49ers at Packers: Packers