Jets @ Bucs
New York Jets 26, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 18
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS
WEIRD-SCORE ALERT. Don’t know what to make of either of these teams. How are the Jets this good? How are the Bucs 2-6? Well, the latter group has struggled on defense all season, with last week being no different, as the Saints piled up 407 yards against Tampa. New York has resurrected the careers of Josh McCown and Matt Forte whilst developing young players like Robby Anderson, Elijah McGuire and Jamal Adams. Heck, they’ve even gotten some good football out of Austin Seferian-Jenkins. And — and — this is the Ryan Fitzpatrick revenge game. I remember Jets-Bucs from when I was a kid. They oddly played each other two years in a row. In 1984, Tampa beat New York in John McKay’s last game as head coach, behind Steve DeBerg. The Bucs made up for it the next year by losing 62-28 to Al Toon and Co. That score is not a misprint.
Panthers @ Bills
Buffalo Bills 23, New Orleans Saints 21
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, FOX
Tough game to call between two teams that have enjoyed more success than most league observers anticipated in the preseason. The Saints are 6-2, the Bills 5-3. Both of the defenses rank top-10 in points allowed. Those units will be key — as will turnovers. Tyrod Taylor doesn’t turn the ball over much. Drew Brees hasn’t of late, after tossing a handful of picks in back-to-back games last month. Thus, I’m not looking for high-flying football at Ralph’s House this weekend. Lots of Shady, and heavy doses of Alvin Kamara.
Cool fact: The Saints have won six straight after losing their first two games. In the Super Bowl era, only two other teams have pulled that off: the 2007 Giants and 1993 Cowboys. There is something special about those two teams, but I can’t remember what it is …
Patriots @ Broncos
New England Patriots 24, Denver Broncos 16
Sunday, 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC
Think you’ll see another fine Tom Brady performance this weekend. You’ll also see a rebound from the Broncos‘ defense. First Brady, who is enjoying an MVP season once again, even if his success bores fans. Wrote about him in this week’s Power Rankings, because I’m not sure people realize how absurdly effective he has been at age 40. The Broncos defenders have a tall task, but I think they’ll be up to the challenge the Patriots present. Will Brock Osweiler produce points? It’ll help if game situation doesn’t remove the RBs from playing much of a role (like last week).
Dolphins @ Panthers
Carolina Panthers 29, Miami Dolphins 17
Monday, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Would give the confusing Panthers 30 points, but not sure they can score that much. You know the Dolphins won’t sniff that against Carolina’s defense. Typically, 350 yards is a productive game from an offense. Carolina hasn’t eclipsed that total in over a month, and only twice all season. That’s OK, because if the Panthers‘ production is subpar, Miami’s output is putrid. The Dolphins are 31st in yardsand 32nd in points scored. There are 32 teams in the league. Think Ron Rivera’s defense will control the flow of the game, even if Jay Cutler and Co. looked vastly improved last Sunday night.
Fun fact: Christian McCaffrey has caught 54 passes this season, more than any other rookie RB through his first nine games since the merger. His 2.86 yards per carry is slightly less impressive.