Game of the week
Baltimore (plus 6 1/2) at Kansas City
Can Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes reach 60 touchdown passes? (He had 50 in 2018). He’s on pace for 56 following a lights-out start and will throw four more against Baltimore’s 18th-ranked pass defense.
Chiefs 30, Ravens 23
Lock of the week
Cincinnati at Buffalo (minus 6 1/2)
Classic trap game for the Bills, who started 2-0 on the road and host New England next week. Look for Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen to throw a fourth-quarter touchdown to pull away from the pesky Bengals.
Bills 23, Bengals 14
Upset of the week
Carolina at Arizona (plus 4 1/2)
Why are the Panthers a road favorite? Yes, they’ll have extra rest, but quarterback Cam Newton (foot) is hobbled and may not play. Arizona is an all-offense/no-defense team so far. The Cardinals rank seventh in passing yards and 31st in yards allowed.
Cardinals 37, Panthers 33
Around the NFC: Ex-CSU receiver Michael Gallup thriving for Dallas
Jones in, Eli out. The Daniel Jones Era starts for the New York Giants in Tampa Bay. Jones, the sixth overall pick in April, replaces Eli Manning. There is rarely a clean way to move on from a franchise quarterback and it seems like a quick hook after two games. Has Manning, 38, produced a Pro Football Hall of Fame resume? Two Super Bowl wins over the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady Patriots get him into the conversation (8-4 playoff record), but he is 116-116 in the regular season and led the NFL in interceptions three times. That suggests entrance to the Hall of Very Good, but five years after his retirement, Manning will have the East Coast voters on his side. We say he gets in, but maybe not right away.
49ers set up well. San Francisco has a chance to start 3-0 for the first time since 1998 and the schedule sets up well for coach Kyle Shanahan to keep pace with the Rams. The 49ers host Pittsburgh (and new quarterback Mason Rudolph) on Sunday, followed vs. Cleveland, at the Rams, at Washington, vs. Carolina and at Arizona. They will be favored in all but the Rams game. Among the key factors so far: Pass protection (one sack), pass rush (seven sacks), takeaways (five) and running game (57.8% run plays, second in the NFL behind Minnesota’s 59.6%).
Gallup emerging. Former Colorado State receiver Michael Gallup had 33 catches as a rookie for Dallas last year. He already has 13 receptions this year (for 226 yards, which is fifth in the league). Playing with Amari Cooper, Randall Cobb and Jason Witten has allowed for great matchup opportunities for Gallup. The Cowboys’ offense is rolling under new play-caller Kellen Moore — second in yards (484.0), sixth in rushing (151.0), third in passing (333.0) and fifth in scoring (33.0).
Around the AFC: Patriots’ fast start should draw comparisons to 2007
Patriots 2007 vs. 2019. New England’s 2-0 start by a combined score of 76-3 should start comparisons to the 2007 Patriots team that went 18-1. Twelve years ago, the Patriots outscored the Jets and Chargers 76-28 in the first two games. That offense scored at least 30 points in all but three games. The difference, at least so far, is defense. The Patriots’ secondary is so stacked it will be tough for opponents to score garbage time touchdowns. A trip to Buffalo next week could be interesting, but after that, it should be clear sailing until Nov. 3 (at Baltimore), Nov. 24 (vs. Dallas) and Dec. 8 (vs. Kansas City).
Steelers add help. Hours after losing quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (elbow) for the season, reeling Pittsburgh flipped its 2020 first-round pick to Miami in a package for disgruntled free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. The Steelers previously traded next year’s third-rounder to the Broncos in a move-up for linebacker Devin Bush. Some pundits suggested acquiring Fitzpatrick was the Steelers’ way of showing confidence in quarterback Mason Rudolph. We suppose, but it’s also a move to improve the defense now (29th in yards/28th in points allowed) and in the years ahead.
Garrett chasing record. The Cleveland Browns’ sack record is 14 1/2 by Bill Glass in 1965 (the sack became an official league statistic in 1982, but teams have researched club marks). Through two games, defensive end Myles Garrett has five, which also leads the NFL. Garrett also has four penalties. Next up for the Browns is a Sunday night home game against the Los Angeles Rams. “He can beat you in a variety of ways,” Rams coach Sean McVay said.
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