Eagles await unbeaten Vikings, familiar face in Sam Bradford
When the Eagles were 3-0, the schedule called for a bye. They haven't won since.
Into Philadelphia on Sunday come the Minnesota Vikings, the NFL's only unbeaten team. They are coming off a bye.
''I think it's 0-0 now, and we start a new season,'' says Mike Zimmer , coach of the 5-0 Vikings. ''You just forget about what has happened in the past, and we start moving on. So, now it's, for us, I think it's an 11-game season, and we'll see where we're at then.''
Where they are at now is the Linc, and the Eagles have looked weak in dropping to 3-2. They were particularly unsightly last week at Washington.
But they are 2-0 at home. Among their biggest challenges is slowing down a guy named Sam Bradford, who until just before the regular season was their starting quarterback. Then he was dealt to Minnesota, where he has been superb.
''I think it's been a win-win, honestly,'' Eagles coach Doug Pederson says. ''In our case, our first-round (and) second overall pick (Carson Wentz) getting a chance to play this early; getting his feet wet, learning, putting us in a great spot. ... He's played a lot of football. He's getting better every week.
''And from their standpoint, they got a good quarterback. He went to a playoff-caliber football team with a tremendous defense.''
The action began Thursday night with Aaron Rodgers throwing for 326 yards and three touchdowns in Green Bay's 26-10 home victory over Chicago.
Rodgers was 39 of 56, setting a franchise record for completions in a game. The Packers are 4-2.
The Bears (1-6) lost quarterback Brian Hoyer to a broken left arm in the second quarter. With Jay Cutler already out with a right thumb injury, Chicago turned to third-stringer Matt Barkley.
Off this week are Dallas (5-1 ) and Carolina (1-5).
Seattle (4-1) at Arizona (3-3)
A Seahawks victory gives them solid control of the NFC West. Their offense has been hit or miss with a revamped offensive line and trying to find a running game - where are you, Beast Mode? The defense has been primed, ranking first overall.
The Cardinals have lost all three home games against Seattle under Bruce Arians, outscored 105-34.
''It doesn't matter if it's on the road or at home, we've got to beat them,'' Arians says. ''If we're going to win the division, we've got to beat them.''
New England (5-1) at Pittsburgh (4-2)
Boy, did this matchup have some spice. Then Ben Roethlisberger damaged his knee, and suddenly this takes on the look of another Patriots romp - particularly if the Steel Curtain that was ripped apart by Miami doesn't mend itself quickly.
''A lot of people came in a lot more focused,'' says Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell, who will need to step up with Roethlisberger sidelined. ''Not to say we weren't focused last week, but I think losing the game the way we did, in the fashion that we did, kind of opened people's eyes and let them know that you can get beat on any given week, no matter the team you're playing.''
Houston (4-2) at Denver (4-2), Monday night
Brock Osweiler took the money and passed, heading from the Broncos to the Texans for $72 million. He returns to the Mile High City, where he shouldn't expect a kind reception from the fans.
Nor from the Broncos, who are in a nasty mood after dropping two straight. They still have a defense that can be dominant, and the Texans have been among the most inconsistent teams in the league, despite their record.
With J.J. Watt gone for the season, Houston is getting solid work from 2014 top overall pick DE Jadeveon Clowney, who's tied for the NFL lead with eight tackles for loss.
Washington (4-2) at Detroit (3-3)
Washington goes for its fifth straight win and has not opened a season with three consecutive road victories since 1999. But the Lions have won three straight against the Redskins.
To beat the Redskins, Detroit might need a quick start: Washington's defense has not given up a TD after halftime during the winning streak.
It might come as a surprise that when Lions QB Matthew Stafford makes his 100th career start, he will top the NFL list in completions, yards passing and 350-yard passing games among NFL players in their first 100.
Buffalo (4-2) at Miami (2-4)
After the Dolphins pulled off a stunner in beating Pittsburgh, South Floridians tended to shrug. A win over the hot Bills, who have taken four in a row, might get folks down there a bit excited.
The matchup, though, doesn't favor Miami. Yes, Buffalo's top-ranked running game might be without LeSean McCoy (hamstring), but the Dolphins rank ahead of only San Francisco defending the rush. There's no truth to the rumor Thurman Thomas will line up in the backfield for the Bills.
San Diego (2-4) at Atlanta (4-2)
After winning at Denver and perhaps getting robbed on a late non-penalty call in Seattle, the Falcons have proven they are for real. They also are 8-1 against San Diego and rank first in total offense.
The Chargers have lost an incredible 10 fumbles so far, and that's a recipe for failure. They also have struggled in the late portions of games.
New York Giants (3-3) vs. Los Angeles (3-3) at London
Another morning game across the pond, with the Rams having gone to Detroit last week, then directly to London. Meanwhile, the Giants were breaking a three-game slide at home.
The NFL is trying a first by playing at Twickenham, a polo ground. New York took part in another first, beating Miami in its previous trip to London in 2007 - the first regular-season game outside North America.
While the Giants could be without star receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who comes off a hip pointer, the Rams need to get last year's Offensive Rookie of the Year, running back Todd Gurley, back to that form.
New Orleans (2-3) at Kansas City (3-2)
Though they hardly play, 10 times in all, this is one of the NFL's better series. All of the games have been decided by 10 points or fewer.
Drew Brees needs one more 300-yard aerial show to reach 100, but getting it against the ball-hawking Chiefs who lead the AFC in takeaways (12) and interceptions (9) won't be easy. Watch for the matchup between Saints receiver Brandin Cooks, averaging 17.1 yards per catch, and 2015 Defensive Rookie of the Year Marcus Peters, who has a league-best five picks and 13 overall in 21 career regular-season games. Peters is tied for the NFL lead with 35 passes defended.
Oakland (4-2) at Jacksonville (2-3)
Welcome back, Jack.
Raiders coach Jack Del Rio spent nine seasons in Jacksonville, leading the franchise to three winning seasons (2004, 2005, 2007) and two playoff appearances. The Raiders haven't won in Florida since beating Tampa Bay in 2008 and are 0-2 at EverBank Field. But they have won all three road games this season.
The Jaguars seek a third consecutive victory in their only home game in a seven-week stretch. They did ''host'' Indianapolis in London, though.
Baltimore (3-3) at New York Jets (1-5)
Talk about punishing a team. The Ravens lost a last-minute decision at the Meadowlands to the Giants last week. Guess where they are on Sunday. Makes it tough to forget that defeat.
Then again, the Jets are among the league's most disappointing teams and their offense has become more invisible than Baltimore's, which is saying something. Hard to believe Geno Smith replacing Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB is the answer.
Indianapolis (2-4) at Tennessee (3-3)
The Colts lead the lopsided series 29-14, have won nine straight and 14 of the past 15 meetings. Now they must figure out how to protect Andrew Luck (NFL-high 23 sacks) and stop so many games from being shootouts. Indy has scored the most points of any AFC South team and allowed the most in the division.
A third successive victory for Tennessee, which hasn't happened since early in 2011, stamps it as a legitimate contender in the division. Indy has the 30th-ranked defense and the Titans can really run the ball.
Cleveland (0-6) at Cincinnati (2-4)
Remember when this was the Battle of Ohio? Now it's more like a pillow fight.
And only one team is carrying any ammo. The Bengals have won the past three in this series by scores of 30-0, 31-10 and 37-3.
One player to watch after the whistle blows is Cincinnati LB Vontaze Burfict. He was fined $75,000 for stepping on Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount after Blount scored a TD last Sunday. Burfict was suspended for the opening three games this season for egregious hits.
Tampa Bay (2-3) at San Francisco (1-5)
The Bucs come off a bye having lost veteran WR Vincent Jackson to injury and uncertain if star running back Doug Martin is ready to return after a setback. But Jacquizz Rodgers set career highs with 30 carries for 101 yards in Tampa's last game vs. Carolina.
San Francisco has lost five straight and has not dropped six in a row since 2008.
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