Game of the week
Green Bay at Tampa Bay
For as long as they have both been in the NFL, this is just the fifth meeting between Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers. (By comparison, Brady and Peyton Manning faced off 17 times, with TB12 winning 11.) Brady has won each of the past three matchups, including a 31-26 victory in the 2021 NFC championship that preceded Ring No. 7 for the Golden Boy. Neither quarterback has been particularly great behind hobbled offensive lines early this season. Best pass rush wins.
Buccaneers 20, Packers 17
Lock of the week
Kansas City at Indianapolis
Atlanta appears to have cut bait at the right time with quarterback Matt Ryan. The one-time league MVP has four interceptions to one touchdown with the Colts and the third-worst passer rating (63.9) in the NFL. Even if receiver Michael Pittman Jr. (quad) is able to play, Ryan doesn’t have the weapons to keep up with Patrick Mahomes and Co.
Chiefs 31, Colts 17
Upset of the week
New Orleans at Carolina
A battle of cast-off No. 1 overall picks commences Sunday in Charlotte, with Jameis Winston and the Saints visiting Baker Mayfield and the Panthers. Carolina is getting 2 1/2 points after losing a pair of down-to-the-wire heartbreakers, with head coach Matt Rhule in desperate need of a win to maintain his employment. Ready the kitchen sink.
Panthers 20, Saints 13
Around the AFC: Has Tua Time finally arrived in Miami?
Tua’s time. For one half last week in Baltimore, Tua Tagovailoa looked like the can’t-miss quarterback prospect Miami thought it drafted fifth overall in 2020. The Alabama product threw four of his six touchdowns in the fourth quarter to bring the Dolphins back from a 21-point deficit for a 42-38 win over the Ravens. Could this be the start of a breakout season for Tua? With speedy wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, he has the right weapons. And with Aurora native Mike McDaniel, he may have the right head coach, too. This week’s home game vs. Buffalo should provide clues
Raiders collapse. The Ravens weren’t the only team to watch a three-touchdown lead evaporate in their own stadium. Las Vegas led Arizona 20-0 at halftime last week in Allegiant Stadium… then managed one field goal the rest of the way as the Cardinals rallied for a 29-23 overtime victory. The loss has the Raiders at 0-2 in the unforgiving AFC West, and very much in must-win mode visiting Tennessee. One early red flag: The connection between Derek Carr and free-agent receiver Davante Adams — hailed as a big reason for the former Fresno State classmates’ reunion — has been wildly inconsistent, with Adams catching just half of the balls thrown his way (12 of 24).
Time to go to the rookie? Say what you will about quarterback Mitch Trubisky’s leadership — and the Steelers said plenty after voting him captain — the 2017 second overall pick remains a disappointment. With the Steelers now 1-2 following Thursday night’s loss in Cleveland, we can’t help but wonder how long it will take head coach Mike Tomlin to pull the plug and turn to first-round pick Kenny Pickett. A home loss to the Jets in Week 4 would seem to be enough.
Around the NFC: It could be worse Broncos fans. Just ask D’Andre Swift.
Lions’ share. For those frustrated with the perceived lack of carries for Broncos back Javonte Williams, may we direct you to the plight of Lions tailback D’Andre Swift in Motown. Through two weeks, the Georgia product is averaging an NFL-best 10.0 yards per carry, but somehow has three less carries (20 to 23) than his timeshare partner Jamaal Williams (3.5 yards/carry). The sooner someone gets Lions coach Matt Campbell an abacus, the better.
Parsons’ start. It appears there will be no sophomore slump for Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons. The reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year has been dominant early on, logging two sacks apiece in Dallas’ first two games to tie Chargers linebacker Khalil Mack for the NFL sacks lead (4.0). Parsons opted out the 2020 COVID season in his final year at Penn State — a decision that appears to have done little to stunt his development. Now the question is whether he and Ja’marr Chase — another productive COVID opt-out from LSU — will start a trend with established college stars who don’t meet the NFL’s age requirement.
Wentz revenge? Just two seasons ago, Carson Wentz lost his job to Jalen Hurts in Philadelphia. Now the two quarterbacks meet for the first time as opponents Sunday in Washington, with Wentz no doubt sporting a Capitol-sized chip on his shoulder. It took all of one year for Colts owner Jim Irsay to kick Wentz to the curb after a late-season collapse kept Indy out of the playoffs. But the early returns in Washington — 650 yards and seven touchdowns in two games — are enough to make us wonder if Irsay pulled the trigger a little too quickly on the Red Rocket.
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