GOLD JACKET GAME OF THE WEEK
ATLANTA @ NEW ENGLAND, 8:30 p.m. (EDT)
The line: Patriots by 3
The weather: Partly cloudy, high of 75
The story: It’s Super Bowl LI all over again … except it’s not in Houston … the Falcons aren’t the best team in the NFC … the Patriots aren’t the best team in the AFC … Matt Ryan isn’t playing like a league MVP … and the Patriots aren’t playing with a defense. Other than that Mrs. Lincoln … If there’s a story here it’s this: Matt Ryan vs. a pass defense that couldn’t stop your cousin Vinny from passing the bread. The Patriots have allowed six straight quarterbacks — including the Jets’ Josh McCown — to throw for 300 or more yards against them. In essence, they’ve become the one defense that can shut down Tom Brady … mostly because they’re the one defense he has trouble outscoring. Bottom line here: Forget the spread; take the over.
Something to consider: The Falcons are last in the league at forcing turnovers, with three.
THREE OTHERS SUITABLE FOR HALL-OF-FRAMING
ARIZONA @ L.A. RAMS (@ LONDON). 1 p.m. (EDT)
The line: Rams by 3
The weather: AM showers, high of 55
The story: Will the real Adrian Peterson please stand up? The guy couldn’t get a sniff with New Orleans. So the Saints trade him to running back starved-Arizona and … voila … he’s Adrian Peterson again, running for 134 yards and scoring twice in his season debut with the Cardinals. So is that who he is? We’re about to find out. The Cards scored a lot of points with Peterson not only getting the carries but taking the heat off a rejuvenated Carson Palmer. But the Rams score a lot of points, too, and have an Adrian Peterson of their own — Todd Gurley — only 10 years young. All together again: Take the over.
Something to consider: The combined win total of the Rams and Cards (7) ties for the highest win total in the history of the London series.
CINCINNATI @ PITTSBURGH, 1 p.m. (EDT)
The line: Steelers by 5-1/2
The weather: Partly cloudy, high of 78
The story: Uh-oh, it’s October, and that’s bad news for Cincinnati. Reason: The Bengals have lost nine straight to Pittsburgh this month. So the smart money is on Pittsburgh, right? I mean, the Steelers last week hung the first loss on Kansas City, they’re home and, apparently, Ben Roethlisberger isn’t washed up this week. But careful, people. Cincinnati is a different team with a different coordinator. Since Bill Lazor took over as offensive coordinator, the Bengals have scored 75 points in three games and gone 2-1 — with no one benefitting from the change more than quarterback Andy Dalton. He has seven touchdowns and two interceptions his last three starts. He had no scores and four interceptions his first two.
Something to consider: Roethlisberger is 19-7 vs. Cincinnati (8-5 at home) and won six of his last seven starts against the Bengals. His 525 completions, 6,140 passing yards and 304 passes for first downs are all career bests of all quarterbacks vs. Cincinnati.
NEW ORLEANS @ GREEN BAY , 1 p.m. (EDT)
The line: Saints by 4
The weather: Showers, high of 63
The story: This is all you need to know about Green Bay: The resale value on this ticket dropped 50 percent after the season-ending injury to quarterback Aaron Rodgers. That tells you that Cheeseheads know what you and I do: The Packers are cooked without Rodgers. I don’t care what Mike McCarthy says about Brett Hundley making his first NFL start or what Hundley says about leading the team — and he says, “We’re all going to have fun.” Apparently not everyone, Brett. A lot of people who wanted to go to this game aren’t … and that tells you something, too: They don’t want to be there when the Packers lose again.
Something to consider: As the home team, Green Bay scored 20-plus points in all 12 games vs. New Orleans.
OUR BEST BETS
RICK GOSSELIN (Season record: 4-2) — Carolina ( — 3) at Chicago. The Panthers are 3-0 on the road and for good reason: Cam Newton and the defense are both playing as they did in 2015 when Carolina was the best team in the NFC.
RON BORGES (Season record: 2-4) — Philadelphia (– 4-1/2) vs. Washington. The easy choice is whoever is playing Cleveland. But I’ll go with the hot team and soar with the Eagles.
CLARK JUDGE (Season record: 2-4) — Cincinnati (+5-1/2) at Pittsburgh. Since changing offensive coordinators the Bengals outscored opponents 75-54, with a 27-24 setback in Green Bay their only loss.
SUNDAY’S HALL OF FAMOUS
ARIZONA RB ADRIAN PETERSON. With 38 yards rushing he reaches 12,000 for his career … and becomes the fourth fastest to get there, behind Jim Brown (115 games), Eric Dickerson (118) and Barry Sanders (125). If Peterson hits 12,000 Sunday, he will have done it in 128 games. And if he scores one rushing TD, he becomes the ninth player in league history to reach 100 rushing touchdowns for his career.
MINNESOTA DE EVERSON GRIFFEN. With a sack Sunday, he becomes just the seventh player to start the season with a sack in each of his first seven games to start the season.
CAROLINA DE JULIUS PEPPERS. He has 3-1/2 sacks, two forced fumbles and three pass deflections in his last five games vs. the Bears.
NEW ORLEANS QB DREW BREES. He has 13 touchdowns, no interceptions and a 126.8 rating in his last four games vs. Green Bay. But that’s not all: In his last eight road games vs. the NFC North, he has 21 TDs, 1 interception and averages … averages … 365.5 yards per game.
JACKSONVILLE QB BLAKE BORTLES. He has 7 touchdowns and no interceptions in his last four games vs. Indianapolis.
DENVER WR DEMARYIUS THOMAS. He has six touchdown catches in his last five games on the road vs. the Chargers.
NEW ENGLAND QB TOM BRADY. In five career games vs. Atlanta, he has 11 touchdowns, 2 interceptions and a passer rating of 109.1. He’s also 4-1.
TEN THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW
- The Miami Dolphins are the only team without a rushing touchdown.
- Baltimore’s Joe Flacco doesn’t have a touchdown pass in three of his last four starts.
- The Cowboys’ Demarcus Lawrence, who leads the league in sacks, has at least one in each of the Cowboys’ five games.
- The Baltimore Ravens rank first in kickoff returns (31.9) and third in punt returns (13.8).
- Since the beginning of 2016, the Ravens have forced the most turnovers (42), while Kansas City is second.
- The Cardinals are 5-0-1 in their last six games vs. NFC West opponents. Arizona also won its last six road games vs. the division.
- With eight wins in its last 10 home games, Miami has its best record there since winning 11 of 12 from September, 2001, to October, 2002.
- During the first eight weeks of this season, the Chicago Bears are expected to play six quarterbacks who have gone to or won the Super Bowl, the most of any team during that stretch.
- New England is the most successful offense on first down, converting 56.4 percent of their first plays into more first downs. Tennessee is second at 55.8.
- Julio Jones leads the Falcons in catches and yards receiving, which is no surprise. But this is: He has no touchdowns.