THIS WEEK’ S HALL-OF-FAME GAME
Seattle @ San Diego, 4:15 p.m., EDT
The line: Seahawks by 6
The story: Too bad Robert Mueller wasn’t hired to investigate the scheduling of this game. The Seahawks opened on Sept. 4. The Chargers opened on Monday. Do the math, people. One team (the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks) had nine days to get ready for the game, while the other (San Diego) had five. What happened to parity? Philip Rivers will have enough trouble trying to solve the Legion of Doom without the league’s schedule makers getting in the way. But that’s not all. Good luck with the weather. The temperature in the stands Sunday is expected to be in the mid-to-upper 90s. Honest.
Hall of Fame worthy: Including the playoffs, the Seahawks won their last five by a score of 152-65 — an average margin of victory of 17.4.
THREE OTHERS SUITABLE FOR HALL OF FRAMING
Atlanta @ Cincinnati, 1 p.m., EDT
The line: Bengals by 5
The story: This is where we discover if the Falcons are for real. They put up a franchise-record 568 yards on New Orleans last week, and the Saints were the league’s fourth-ranked defense a year ago. We know that Cincinnati’s legit — if we’re not talking January, that is — and the Bengals don’t lose at home. In fact, they’re aiming for their 10th consecutive regular-season victory there. Don’t expect Matt Ryan to have the same success here he had a week ago, but do expect a close game.
Hall of Fame worthy: Under Mike Smith, the Falcons are 46-2 when leading after three quarters.
Detroit @ Carolina, 1 p.m., EDT
The line: Carolina by 2-1/2
The story: “Donkey Kong Suh?” First of all, why did Cam Newton keep hammering that name this week? Second, what exactly does it mean? I don’t know, either, but, Derek Anderson, stay warm. Cam seems to have touched a nerve. If Carolina plays defense as it did Monday night it won’t matter if Cam Neely or Pam Anderson quarterbacks the Panthers; they win. Yeah, I know, the Lions have Megatron. But these aren’t the New York Giants. The Panthers have a defense; the Giants are searching for a pulse.
Hall of Fame worthy: Carolina won its last seven regular-season games at home.
Chicago @ San Francisco, 8:30 p.m., EDT
The line: 49ers by 7
The story: A radio host in Chicago asked me if the Bears had a chance here, and I told him they did … but not much of one. Reason: 1) Playmakers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey are banged up, with Marshall missing two days of practice this week; 2) Matt Forte will struggle against a defense that didn’t allow a 100-yard rusher a year ago and 3) the 49ers are a better, deeper team. If there’s hope for Chicago it’s this: The 49ers’ offense sputtered in preseason and put up 28 points last weekend against a horrid Dallas defense. Maybe it sputters again. If so, Robbie Gould please stand by.
Hall of Fame worthy: The 49ers produced a league-high 21 points off turnovers last weekend.
… AND ONE THAT’S NOT
St. Louis @ Tampa Bay, 4:05 p.m., EDT
The line: Bucs by 5-1/2
The story: The Rams have decided to play the season without a quarterback, and that might be OK if their defense was hermetically sealed. But it’s not, with St. Louis hemorrhaging 34 points to Minnesota (at home, no less) and losing defensive end Chris Long in the process. These two combined for 20 points in their openers, but Tampa had 14 of them. That gives them the edge. So does the homefield. And so does the opponent.
Hall of Fame worthy: Jeff Fisher is 6-1 vs. Tampa Bay.
UPSET OF THE WEEK
Rick Gosselin — Jacksonville (+6-1/2) over Washington. The Redskins are completely out of synch on offense and face a young, improving defense in the Jaguars. How soon before the Redskins turn to Kirk Cousins?
Ron Borges — Jets (+8-1/2) over Green Bay. They are who Rex thinks they are.
Clark Judge — Oakland (+3) over Houston. So MJD doesn’t play. He’s not the key here. The Black Hole is … and Ryan Fitzpatrick is about to sink in it.
LOCK OF THE WEEK
Denver over Kansas City, 4:25 p.m.
The line: Broncos by 12
The story: This is all you need to know about this game: Peyton Manning is 11-1 vs. the Kansas City. Check, please. The Chiefs couldn’t beat Jake Locker at home. So how are they going to solve Peyton Manning? Answer: They’re not.
Hall of Fame worthy: Denver’s DeMarcus Ware has four sacks in his last two games vs. Kansas City.
FIVE GUYS WHO COULD MAKE SUNDAY’S WALL OF FAME
- New England QB Tom Brady. He’s 3-0 vs. Minnesota, with 851 yards, 8 touchdowns and one interception for a 110.7 rating.
- New Orleans TE Jimmy Graham. In his last six games vs. AFC opponents he has 8 TDs, with at least one touchdown in five of those six.
- Seattle QB Russell Wilson. He’s 7-2 vs. the AFC, with 16 TDs, three interceptions and a passer rating of 108.3.
- Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers. He’s 28-2 in his last 30 starts at home, with 75 TDs and 17 interceptions.
- San Francisco QB Colin Kaepernick. He made his first career start vs. Chicago, producing a 133.1 rating to win the job. When Kaepernick has a rating of 100 or better the 49ers are 14-0.
HALL OF NOTES-WORTHY
- Calvin Johnson has 100 or more yards receiving in 22 of his last 34 starts.
- In his last five games vs. the NFC, A.J. Green has 32 catches for 517 yards and seven TDs.
- New England’s Bill Belichick needs one win to become the sixth coach in NFL history with 200 regular-season victories.
- Philadelphia’s Nick Foles had a 138.4 rating on the road last season, with 21 touchdowns and one interception.
- Four teams last week won after overcoming deficits of 10 or more points. The last time that happened in Week One was 2002.
- Since realignment in 2002, 86 of the 144 teams (59.7 percent) that qualified for the playoffs started 1-1 or 0-2 — including five of the eight division champions in 2013.
- There are 16 first-round draft picks among the quarterbacks who started Week One. There are seven chosen in the sixth round or later.
- Denver has allowed the fewest sacks (42) since the start of 2012, including one last weekend.
- Aaron Rodgers is 5-1 in home openers, with four passer ratings of 100 or better.
- Philadelphia won its last five road openers and eight of its last 11.
Photo courtesy of the San Diego Chargers