Football

Big Ben’s absence lets air out of Steelers-Patriots matchup

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger could miss a month or more after having left knee surgery on Monday. The Steelers play New England on Sunday, have a week off, visit the Ravens and host the Cowboys in the next month.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger could miss a month or more after having left knee surgery on Monday. The Steelers play New England on Sunday, have a week off, visit the Ravens and host the Cowboys in the next month. TNS

Giants (3-3) at Rams (3-3) (in London)

8:30 a.m., NFL Network

Line: Giants by 3

New York seems to have steadied the ship against the Ravens, with the help of a 222-yard, two-touchdown performance from wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. Los Angeles has been the model of inconsistency thus far, due to a lackluster offense that ranks 31st, averaging 301.3 yards per game. The winner of this contest will enter their bye week with a record above .500.

Colts (2-4) at Titans (3-3)

Noon, DirecTV/709

Line: Titans by 3

Somehow Indianapolis found a way to lose in Houston last week after holding a 14-point lead with 2:47 left in regulation. Indy has lost three games by four points or less. The Titans have quietly climbed to 10th in both offensive (366.2) and defensive (324) yards per game and sit a game behind the Texans in the very winnable AFC South.

Vikings (5-0) at Eagles (3-2)

Noon, KFDW/4

Line: Vikings by 3

Minnesota quarterback Sam Bradford returns to Philadelphia for the first time since being traded by the Eagles eight days before the opener, a move that cleared the way for rookie quarterback Carson Wentz to become Philly’s starter. The Vikings try to remain undefeated and the Eagles try to avoid three consecutive losses in what has been billed as the Bradford-Wentz Bowl.

Saints (2-3) at Chiefs (3-2)

Noon, DirecTV/711

Line: Chiefs by 6

New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees is on pace to throw for more than 5,500 yards this season, a pace that might need to be maintained to overcome an NFL-worst scoring defense (33.2 per game). After holding the explosive Raiders to only 285 yards, Kansas City begins a stretch of five consecutive opponents with sub-.500 records.

Browns (0-6) at Bengals (2-4)

Noon, DirecTV/705

Line: Bengals by 10

It’s a season that seems awfully familiar to Cleveland fans. Despite solid play from rookie quarterback Cody Kessler, the Browns are the NFL’s only winless team. Cincinnati’s four losses have come to teams with a combined 18-6 record. The 2015 AFC North champs have a chance to make up ground with division-leading Pittsburgh playing without its star QB.

Redskins (4-2) at Lions (3-3)

Noon, DirecTV/710

Line: Lions by 1

Looking dead in the water after starting the year with losses to the Steelers and Cowboys, Washington has won four in a row and can equal Dallas in the win column with a victory. Since last season, the ’Skins are 13-3 when Kirk Cousins is intercepted two or fewer times. The Lions are on a similar upward trajectory, winning two consecutive games and gaining momentum in the NFC.

Raiders (4-2) at Jaguars (2-3)

Noon, KTVT/11

Line: Jaguars by 1

Oakland is coming off a 285-yard offensive performance, a total that won’t get it done when coupled with a defense that is allowing a league-worst 444.8 yards per game. The Raiders are in jeopardy of losing their share of first place in the AFC West. Jacksonville can still contend for their division if they can jump-start their 29th-ranked offense (320 yards per game), once imagined to be the team’s strength.

Bills (4-2) at Dolphins (2-4)

Noon, DirecTV/707

Line: Bills by 3

Two weeks into the season, jobs were being lost in Buffalo. Now, an argument could be made that Buffalo is the NFL’s hottest team. Four consecutive wins by a combined score of 124-53 has changed the Bills’ image. Miami is looking for consistency, after rolling past Pittsburgh with the help of a 204-yard, two-touchdown day from second-year runner Jay Ajayi.

Ravens (3-3) at Jets (1-5)

Noon, DirecTV/708

Line: Jets by 2

New York might be suffering from buyer’s remorse after benching $12 million quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and his 11 interceptions in favor of Geno Smith, who was once thought to be the Jets’ future at quarterback. Baltimore has lost three consecutive games, but a win could set up the Ravens to regain the division lead when they play a short-handed Pittsburgh team following their bye.

Buccaneers (2-3) at 49ers (1-5)

3:05 p.m., DirecTV/714

Line: Pick ’em

Tampa Bay is still alive because both of its wins came within the NFC South, one against the division-leading Falcons in Atlanta. The Bucs are coming off a bye, following their first turnover-free game of the season. After a poor showing in Buffalo, San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick will make his home debut, where his career record is 21-9-1.

Chargers (2-4) at Falcons (4-2)

3:05 p.m., DirecTV/713

Line: Falcons by 6

Atlanta is eager to wash away the taste of last week’s controversial loss in Seattle. The Falcons continue to put up obscene offensive numbers, averaging 441.5 yards and 33.2 points per game. San Diego quarterback Phillip Rivers has been sharp, with 12 touchdowns and just three interceptions. But the Chargers’ four losses are by a combined 16 points. Rivers will lead the Chargers into the Georgia Dome, where Matt Ryan is 44-20.

Patriots (5-1) at Steelers (4-2)

3:25 p.m., KTVT/11

Line: Patriots by 7

New England and Pittsburgh have won nine AFC titles in the past 15 years. This matchup loses some luster with Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger out for a while after having left knee surgery last week. Landry Jones will start in his stead. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has been playing like ... like Tom Brady, throwing for 782 yards and six touchdowns in his two games back from suspension.

Seahawks (4-1) at Cardinals (3-3)

7:30 p.m., KXAS/5

Line: Cardinals by 2

Seattle and Arizona have swapped finishing first and second in the NFC West in the last two seasons. Similar implications are likely at stake. A Cardinals win would equal the Seahawks in the win column. The Seahawks are coming off a bye and bring their top-ranked defense into University of Phoenix Stadium, where they have won three consecutive games by a combined score of 105-34.

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